Green View Farm, Pikehall
28th to 31st July 2022
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Y NOT FESTIVAL – LIVE REVIEW
Festival season is in full swing, the weather is warm, and the women are setting the standard for football, in many ways life is good. Of course in many other ways things are tough right now.
Music has always been an escape from reality, and we certainly need a distraction right now, so as Y Not Festival open their gates for the first time in three years, it’s time for tens of thousands of fans to let their hair down and celebrate. That is once they can actually get in, with some enormous queues upon entry dampening early spirits.
Now, the last and only time I attended Y Not Festival was the fateful 2017 event which ended in cancellation midway through. I wrote a scathing review for another publication and swore never to return.
Well, watching from a distance the festival has put out some stunning line-ups since then, and organisational changes appear to have improved things and returned the events reputation to pre-2017 levels. This year is in fact billed as their first year back as an independent festival.
Having decided to give the festival a second chance on the basis of their 2020 line-up, I’ve since witnessed the line-up change multiple times for the worse based on my personal preferences. There is no doubting however the overall quality of the line-up at a tough time for festivals.
I’m interested to see how the event will progress and whether it can change my opinion of the festival after the 2017 debacle, so the huge entry queues on Thursday and Friday aren’t the best start.
Listen to Full Pelt Music’s two Podcasts
Thankfully once inside, things pick up quickly! The general layout is well thought out in the main arena, with the main stage, the second stage (The Quarry) and numerous other attractions in the main section of the arena, and the third stage (The Giant Squid) and various other stages and attractions located in a smaller area.
This almost creates two distinct festival areas, with a busy walkway connecting them. The only issue here is that later on in each day this thoroughfare does bottleneck and makes movement very difficult. At one point on Sunday night, this reaches a near dangerous level as fans flood the area trying to catch an Oasis tribute band on one of the smaller stages.
Whilst I quite liked the two separate areas concept, in future additional access would need to be installed at the other end of the second area to avoid any disastrous incidents and make crowd movements flow better.
Now on to the music! Thursday is an add-on day and those to fork out and arrive early are given a splattering of acts to enjoy.
The first such act that we catch is Lucy Spraggan who does a great job in getting the audience into the spirit of things. Spraggan has the crowd singing along to the likes of The Proclaimers cover ‘I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)’, and fan favourites ‘Last Night (Beer Fear)’ and ‘Wait for Me’.
Next, The Hunna grace the main stage and also deliver a crowd pleasing set. The band’s momentum seems to have stalled slightly, but that upwards trajectory is set to relaunch if the reaction to new single, ‘Trash’, is anything to go by. ‘She’s Casual’ and ‘Bonfire’ serve as a reminder of what the band is capable of, and leaves the audience fully pumped up for our Thursday headliners.
WATCH ‘TRASH’ FROM THE HUNNA ON YOUTUBE
Those headliners are indie stalwarts The Kooks. The band have been celebrating their debut album, ‘Inside In/Inside Out’, whilst they have also recently released a new album, ’10 Tracks to Echo in the Dark’. It’s no surprise then that 15 out of 21 songs tonight come from those two releases.
The new tracks manage to hold up well with the hits such as ‘Ooh La’, ‘She Moves In Her Own Way’, ‘Always Where I Need To Be’ and ‘Naïve’. All in all this equates to a fun headline show which sets the standard for the weekend to come.
Read our review of ’10 Tracks to Echo in the Dark’ from The Kooks
Friday on paper is the best day musically for me heading in with a great mix of the new and established acts that Y Not Festival has managed to book so well.
It’s a new act we start with on the main stage as Lauran Hibberd brings her charismatic indie pop to Y Not Festival. The early risers are treated to a glimpse of a star in the making and those that make the effort don’t regret it. Hibberd’s debut album, ‘Garageband Superstar’ is out this month, and based on today’s showing it will be a breakthrough record.
Hibberd has featured previously on our ‘Discover’ New Music Playlist, and next we headed to the ‘Giant Squid’ stage for the first time to catch fellow playlist alumni Daytime TV.
Daytime TV showcase their incredible debut album, ‘Nothing’s On But Everyone’s Watching’, as they quickly blast out the likes of ‘We Can’t Be Friends’, ‘Hush’, ‘Ugly’ and ‘Zombie’. This is another band with a great future, and today they deliver the goods for the early crowd.
Watch our ‘Discover’ New Music Podcast with guests Daytime TV
Continuing the run of fantastic young acts we catch MarthaGunn in the ‘Giant Squid’ and The Skinner Brothers in the ‘Allotment’. Two very different acts, but two more acts that make the very most of their time on stage, clearly winning over any fans not already converted.
We then return to the main stage for another newer act, but one that already feel established. The Snuts burst onto the scene with their debut album, ‘W.L.’, and have dominated festival stages this year. Today fans are treated to a look at what comes next with new songs ‘Burn the Empire’ and ‘Zuckerpunch’ sounding massive. Expect The Snuts to continue to climb festival bills over the next few years, and don’t be surprised when they are eventually headlining the likes of Y Not Festival.
Read our review of The Snuts live in Colchester
The Pale White continue what has been a consistently brilliant day of music with a powerful set in the ‘Giant Squid’, before we head to the ‘Quarry’ for the first time this weekend.
Festival favourite and all round legend Beans On Toast assembles a huge crowd for a sing-a-long session. The heralded folk singer serenades his crowd with favourites such as ‘The War on War’, ‘M.D.M.Amazing’ and ‘On & On’. Really, there should be a law that dictates that Beans On Toast appears at every single festival.
Watch The Full Pelt Music Podcast with guest Beans On Toast
Even before the major issues struck in 2017, one gripe I had about Y Not Festival was the apparent disorganisation in relation to set times. I worry next that perhaps this issue hasn’t been fixed as Manic Street Preachers fail to appear for their advertised start time. Eventually a message appears on the screens citing technical difficulties, and the band finally arrive almost an hour late on stage.
Read our review of Manic Street Preachers live in Cambridge
This of course has a knock on effect to our headliners Stereophonics, and also means when the Manics do arrive, they quickly depart again only playing for half their originally scheduled time. The technical difficulties seemingly continue to dog the band throughout their short time on stage, which causes more set changes on the fly. A lesser band may have given up, but Manic Street Preachers force their way through.
Read our review of Stereophonics live in Cambridge
Stereophonics are a safe bet as a festival headliner, guaranteed to deliver the goods and give the audience a good time. That’s exactly what they do to close out Friday night, with a set mixed of hits and deep cuts from throughout their distinguished career.
The double header of of Welsh icons Manic Street Preachers and Stereophonics was a major selling point for many fans, so it’s disappointing that the technical issues leave a sour taste in the mouth.
Saturday soon arrives and we start off on the main stage for another double header of established acts. The Futureheads and Levellers bring the crowds in early as the festival rights the wrongs of last night. Both bands deliver solid sets which the audience lap up, and the party is in full swing as we head deeper into Saturday afternoon.
We refocus next however back to the fresh new acts that help to make this festival so appealing. Do Nothing, King No-One and the excellent The Mysterines all draw big crowds to the ‘Giant Squid’ stage and all three acts are able to produce perfect festival sets to the delight of the packed tent.
Read our review of The Mysterines live in London
Sea Girls are one of the bands leading the new wave of indie and they are next up on the main stage, where they are greeted by an army of their fans. The band and fans then reciprocate energy for the next forty-five minutes and the result is a very enjoyable watch.
Our Saturday night is then spent back in the ‘Giant Squid’ for two bands that personify the festival. First up is a hot new band on the cusp of greatness in the form of Yard Act. This is a band that has been touring solidly and making a name for themselves. Today they put the spotlight on debut album, ‘The Overload’, which gets the entire tent bouncing along.
Read our review of ‘The Overload’ from Yard Act
Lastly is an established act of indie folklore, We Are Scientists! The band finish out the night with a fan pleasing set full of favourites such as ‘It’s A Hit’, ‘The Great Escape’ and ‘Nobody Move, Nobody Get Hurt’.
WATCH ‘THE GREAT ESCAPE’ FROM WE ARE SCIENTISTS ON YOUTUBE
It’s during this time that the heavens open for the first time. Back in 2017 it was the Saturday night when the festival organisers decided enough was enough, come Sunday morning the last day was cancelled and a disorderly evacuation of the site commenced.
One massive criticism of the event that year was a lack of foresight with heavy rain predicted well in advance, the site saw little or no preparation for the weather. It’s great this year then that prior to the rainfall we see straw spread at key points in the arena.
The result is that despite a night of rain, the arena is still in good nick come Sunday morning and we are able to continue with the high quality entertainment. Kudos then to the present organisers for taking proactive action rather than waiting until the horse has already bolted!
So, onto my first Y Not Festival Sunday! We again are on the hunt for new talent early on and catch both Marty and Cucamaras in the ‘Quarry’ and Baby Queen capturing the imagination of the main stage. All three showing that the future is bright.
Sunday really sinks it teeth in on the main stage with back to back performances from Amy MacDonald and Jake Bugg. Two more established acts with stacked back catalogues, two more artists that are able to deliver polished and well received sets as the shine really starts to break through.
After some sing-a-long action with MacDonald and Bugg, it’s back to the fantastic new music offerings as The Hara and Rews in the ‘Giant Squid’, and Vistas and Dream Wife in the ‘Quarry’ all deliver blistering performances which really rile up the audience.
Soon there is a great moment on the main stage where The Vaccines get to announce the incredible result of the Football mid-set. The atmosphere is electric as fans celebrate with more great music.
For us that great music sees us conclude our weekend back in the ‘Giant Squid’, firstly with Blood Red Shoes, who have released one of the albums of the year in ‘Ghosts On Tape’. Their belated set is an intense and ferocious explosion of rock which instantly enters the race for performance of the weekend.
Read our review of ‘Ghosts on Tape’ from Blood Red Shoes
Watch The Full Pelt Music Podcast with guests Blood Red Shoes
That honour is hotly contested as across four days of music we somehow haven’t seen a bad performance. The pure quality on offer despite the multiple line-up changes since 2020 is a testament of the work of the booking team for Y Not Festival.
The last band of the weekend for us is Black Honey, who decide that the crown for set of the weekend belongs to them. They deliver an energetic yet majestic performance that is the perfect way to end what has been a great weekend.
Read our review of Black Honey live in Norwich
I must admit scepticism coming into the event, and whilst I hoped that a great weekend would be had, I wasn’t sure. The organisers have rectified the issues of 2017 and have earned themselves a clean slate from me.
Whether you just want to chill at the main stage, or go hunting for the best kept secrets in the tents, Y Not Festival had it all this year. The ghosts of the past have been put to bed by the acts of the future!
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