Live Reviews

Download Festival

Donington Park

14th to 16th June 2024

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Oh, the difference a year makes! Last year the sun shone down on the bumper twentieth anniversary edition of Download Festival. Pretty much every person in attendance last year would say that it was simply too hot. Of course, this year then had to do a complete 180 and instead of a desperate search for water to quench our thirst, this year there is far too much of it – and sadly we aren’t talking about new headline sponsor Liquid Death!

No, months of rain in the UK left the festival grounds at Donington Park ill prepared for the downpours that would arrive over the first few days of the festival. The ground conditions quickly becoming treacherous and a weekend of hard slog, delays, cancellations, rejigs and almost every problem imaginable ensues.

There is a real risk that this year’s edition of Download will be remembered for the mud and for the protests that led to Barclays stepping back as a sponsor of the event. This is unfortunate as really the event should be remembered for a progressive line-up that leads the event into the next generation.

After an overreliance of guaranteed ticket shifters, Bring Me The Horizon’s dominant performance last year appears to have opened the door to new headliners (not that Queens of the Stone Age or Fall Out Boy are actually new!), and fresher overall line-ups.

The balance this year between old favourites (Machine Head, Bowling For Soup, Black Stone Cherry), fresh big hitters (Fall Out Boy, Royal Blood, Queens of the Stone Age) and future contenders (Creeper, Enter Shikari, Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes), is spot on. There is something here for rock and metal fans of all ages and that is going to be key to the longevity of the festival.


So let us walk through some of the best sets of the weekend, starting Friday on the main stage as a more classic rock feel welcomes early attendees. The Blue Stones open the festival with a solid performance before Those Damn Crows show just how far they’ve come with a top-level set.

The clash-gods haven’t been kind to us this year and many sacrifices must be made, however we are able to catch the superb Mouth Culture make their mark on the Dogtooth stage next.

It’s then back to the main stage as The Struts continue to show why over the top sing-along rock n roll will never go out of fashion. Frontman Luke Spiller has the crowd in the palm of his hand and not even the continuing rain can dampen the spirits of a crowd belting out ‘Could Have Been Me’.

Black Stone Cherry are regular visitors to Donington Park, but today marks their first appearance in some six years. Clearly the fans have missed them, and the band make sure that they make the most of their time on stage. Fan favourites and a couple from latest album, ‘Screaming at the Sky’ has the field rocking hard and attendees won’t have to wait long to catch the band again with a headline tour on its way!

Sticking with the main stage, the booking of Royal Blood as sub-headliners is another sign of a more modern focus for the festival. Technical issues however disrupt the momentum of the performance and metaphorically dampen the mood in the already damp crowd. That said when the duo can fully unleash their power, a realisation appears to hit even the staunchest doubters of their Download credentials.

And speaking of Download credentials… Busted! Even five years ago the thought of the band playing these hallowed grounds would have sent the old school punters into a frenzy. How dare they bring their deplorable pop rubbish to our prestigious and very serious metal festival!!!!!

Well, thankfully the mentally that saw My Chemical Romance bottled off stage in 2007 is almost gone (just don’t look at the Facebook comments on the Busted announcement!). Headlining the Avalanche stage, the crowd is deep outside the tent as fans try to catch a glimpse of the trio. Before we head back to the main stage for our headliners, we get to witness the glorious sight of even the most hardened rockers partying along to the likes of ‘Air Hostess’ and ‘MMMBop’!

There is a different kind of party on the main stage however as Queens of the Stone Age are belatedly given top-billing at the UK’s premier rock festival. Josh Homme is clearly high on the atmosphere (amongst other things), and the band deliver a stunning performance chronicling their incredible career. Naturally it’s ‘No One Knows’ that enters the face for sing-along moment of the weekend, but the likes of ‘The Lost Art of Keeping a Secret’ and ‘I Sat by the Ocean’ are glorious tonight.


On to Saturday now and a fair few in attendance may be nursing hangovers this morning (especially the poor Scots after their Euro’s humbling), but as always Download has the cure. After a slight delay the venue fills again ready for another day of music with a point to prove.

That starts immediately with Bambie Thug who opens the mainstage with another set which probably wouldn’t have been greeted as well a decade ago. Bambie Thug however manages to mesmerise and captivate the early crowd with a truly powerful performance of The Cranberries ‘Zombie’ acting as a stance against ongoing atrocities across the world. Whilst the work of others helped to change the position of Barclays, the statement made here by Bambie Thug is something that will last long in the conscience of attendees.

The levels of energy and passion continue throughout sets from WARGASM on the main stage and KNIFE BRIDE and ALT BLK ERA on the Dogtooth stage. Then it’s time to change pace with The Hunna (another fresh booking) taking to the main stage. The group clearly appreciate the opportunity and make a great impression during their relatively short time on stage.

Frank Carter & The Rattlesnakes are up next and whilst the anger and ferocity of their stage presence may have balanced out, the elevation in showmanship and passion ensures that the group remain one of the best live acts in town. Their main stage set this weekend is sublime and you’d expect Carter and co to help lead this festival into the future.

They say that lightning never strikes the same place twice… well, what about torrential downpours? In scenes eerily reminiscent of their main stage slot in 2016, BABYMETAL have their set almost completely destroyed by a biblical shower which also destroys what is left of the arena grounds. During their short time onstage BABYMETAL are fantastic, but unfortunately, they may be seen as cursed when booked on the main stage!

The weather from here on out just can’t make its mind up with a mixture of sun and rain, but that eclectic mix is perhaps fitting for Enter Shikari who present their unique smorgasbord of sound next on the main stage. The group have grown up with the festival so it’s nice to finally see them in a prominent slot on this stage. The opportunity is seized with both hands and Shikari prove why they also must be considered amongst the best live acts on the circuit.

Sticking again to the main stage, The Offspring deliver a headline worthy performance next which even includes an encore much to the chagrin of festival etiquette experts. The band however carry themselves as headliners and they of course have bangers for days as they say. After the punishing weather, it’s great to see the audience finally unleash and dance their way through this wonderfully fun set.

A quick sojourn to the Dogtooth stage for a short but sweet Cassyette performance then leads us to the big Saturday headline slot which this year is taken on by Fall Out Boy. Another example of a band perhaps criminally underfeatured at this event in the past due to not having the perceived heaviness required by the gatekeepers of yesteryear.

The band however are ready to make up for lost time as they produce a memorable one-off set akin to the ‘Eras’ show from a certain Taylor Swift. And whilst it’s unlikely the festival will ever welcome the army of swifties; it’s refreshing to see the positive reception received by Fall Out Boy. From somebody that witnessed the My Chemical Romance hostilities, it’s another positive indictment that the future of the festival is looking bright.


The Sunday at a major festival like this is always a tough one, with everyone tired and already over-stimulated. It takes something memorable to kickstart proceedings and after lengthy delays in setting up the arena, it’s Code Orange that truly get things going today with a set that ends in the band smashing up the stage after going over time.

You can understand their frustration however with the times of bands changing at short notice due to the supposed actions required to get the arena ready for the fans. It must be said though that when we do finally enter, it’s hairy still without much action being obvious at least!

The changes in times frustrate some, but for us the movements mean that we can catch both Creeper on the main stage and Royal Republic over on the second stage. Two incredible live acts, Creeper are up first and showcase in just thirty minutes what they could look like as future headliners. An all-out show accompanies some fantastic music and indeed, you have to hope that Creeper are given an opportunity further up the bill next time around.

As for Royal Republic, you know what you are getting – a highly enjoyable live act who will always bring the party. That’s exactly what they do today as they showcase their superb new album, ‘LoveCop’.

Much hype surrounded the mysterious secret set at Download this year, those battling their way into the Dogtooth are treated to a Parkway Drive performance, we however avoid the crush and instead sing-along to some pop-punk favourites as Zebrahead and Bowling For Soup serenade their crowds.

In fact, we are certainly in the sing-along portion of the weekend as the main stage welcomes two iconic bands from the new millennium. Firstly Sum 41, who are embarking on a final tour as they bring the sun down on their career. The band get a big crowd who send them on their way by singing each song right back at them with the final run of ‘In Too Deep’, ‘We Will Rock You’, ‘Fat Lip’ and ‘Still Waiting’ particularly loud!

Loud is also a great way to describe Limp Bizkit who are up next. The band are like a fine wine and just keep getting better, with Fred Durst able to orchestrate the crowd as only he can. A double dose of ‘Break Stuff’ sums up the vibes of the set, which for many is the perfect way to close out the festival.

For others there is still a choice between Machine Head, The Used, The Black Dahlia Murder or Avenged Sevenfold to be that final performance of another wet but glorious weekend. For us we follow the theme of the weekend and position ourselves at the main stage.

Avenged Sevenfold are headlining the event for the third time, and this time they have a rather polarising new album to play. The weather, the other options and that ambivalence towards ‘Life Is But a Dream…’, means the crowd is a little on the thin side, but those in attendance make up for those missing.

Some of the new songs do flatten the atmosphere but when the band bang out the likes of ‘Afterlife’, ‘Hail To The King’, ‘Bat Country’ and ‘Nightmare’ there is no better way to finish the weekend.

As we said at the start, there is a real risk that this weekend will be remembered for different reasons, but for us the takeaway is that the event is finally looking towards the future. It’s refreshing to see the real-life reactions to some of the online contentious bookings and that helps point that the future of Download is a positive one.

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Full Pelt Magazine

Vol. 9

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Our weekly music News Report has evolved into the Full Pelt Magazine, and you can download the ninth issue now for free!

Volume nine includes an update from cover stars The Hunna and exclusive interview with The Pale White. Plus we review Fall Out Boy live in London and album reviews from The Cadillac Three, The Struts, WARGASM and Black Water County!

We have our News Report rounding up new releases from Green Day, Chelsea Wolfe, Beans On Toast, Dead Poet Society, Casey, Mother Mother, The Beatles, New Model Army, Pet Needs, Pendulum, Therapy?, Normandie, Bob Vylan, Amongst Liars, Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard and Kid Kapichi!

Plus new live announcements from 2000trees, Isle of Wight Festival, Takedown Festival, Radar Festival, Bearded Theory, Bruce Springsteen, Hayseed Dixie, Feeder, Delain, Saint Agnes, Chris Shiflett, Black Honey, The K’s, Lake Malice, Kaiser Chiefs, King Nun and Blossoms!

Finally, we round up the latest additions to our ‘Discover’ New Music Playlist with Tropic GoldInterlaker and Jock!

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Live Reviews

The Hunna

Junction, Cambridge

Monday 30th October 2023

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📸 (c) Denis Gorbatov / Full Pelt Music

It’s the night before Halloween and it’s a typical autumnal evening in Cambridge. The bars and restaurants are bustling and the Junction is doing what they do best and welcoming music fans in for an eclectic night of entertainment.


The first act to grace the stage this evening is Band of Silver hailing from Nashville. The sibling trio have a modest early crowd to win over, but they set about doing just that. The three bands tonight are an eclectic mix as already mentioned, but Band of Silver are pretty darn eclectic themselves!

Mixing rock and pop with elements of new wave and prog, there is an awful lot going on with their sound. This isn’t a bad thing and certainly makes for an interesting half hour, although the audience doesn’t really reciprocate the energy exuded from the stage. Further exploration of Band of Silver is definitely on the agenda though as the band do the most important thing and leave a mark.


The main support act on the tour are Sick Joy who slow things down with their darker, grungier sound. The crowd has grown in both size and intensity as the venue is captivated by the groovy rockers.

Following the release of their debut album last year, Sick Joy are already building their next phase and recent single, ‘Hypodermic Sunshine’, gives a positive glimpse of what’s to come. The band are well on the way to establishing themselves as a must see act and shows like tonight will only grow their fanbase further.


Cultivating a fanbase isn’t something that has been a problem for our headliners The Hunna. Ever since the band broke through in 2016 they’ve been on the cusp of huge things. Their debut album has ensured that the band will always be able to pack out venues like tonight and it’s no surprise that by the time the band come on the venue is full and raring to go.

From the moment the band arrive onstage you feel in the presence of something special and the atmosphere ramps up throughout the likes of ‘We Could Be’, ‘Fugazi’, ‘I Wanna Know’ and ‘Can’t Break What’s Broken’.

Self-titled album, ‘The Hunna’ takes centre stage tonight amidst a well structured, career-spanning setlist. The album continues the bands momentum and is a great collection of songs, many of which come across well live tonight with ‘Apologies’ and show ender ‘Trash’ particular highlights.

The main set closing run of ‘She’s Casual’, ‘Bonfires’ and ‘Dare’ is electric as you’d expect and with the tease of new music on the horizon, it’s very clear that The Hunna still have plenty more to offer.

There were no tricks at the Junction tonight, but for those in attendance there were an abundance of treats!

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Read our review of ‘The Hunna’ from The Hunna

Album Reviews

The Hunna


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The Hunna have been perennial contenders for superstardom since their hugely successful debut album, ‘100’, released back in 2016. Two further albums have followed with neither 2018’s ‘Dare’, nor 2020’s ‘I’d Rather Die Than Let You In’ able to elevate the band to that next level.

It’s a harsh reality of the music industry that the opportunities to truly breakthrough are severely limited these days. Even modern day success stories are never likely to reach the levels attained by their predecessors. It must also be said that audience attention spans are more akin these days to that proverbial goldfish.

That is a callous but pragmatic view on casual music fans. Dedicated, hardcore music fans however are a different animal all together, they are able to engage longer and deeper with the acts that deserve it. That is no doubt why The Hunna have been able to garner such a passionate and dedicated fanbase.

The Hunna – ‘Trash’

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This deep philosophical insight into the depravity of the music industry comes not from a random thought, but from the impactful opening to The Hunna’s self-titled fourth album. Single, ‘Trash’, is an abrasive punk rocker taking aim at the pitfalls of the industry. The storming track takes firm aim at the darker aspects of the industry that most artists are fearful to call out.

That sets up the album spectacularly, both sonically and lyrically, as the band are both honest and unashamed. From soaring pop ballads, to indie hits, all out rockers and everything in between, this is a diverse collection that represents well everything The Hunna have been and everything that they want to be.

There are moments that those goldfish will enjoy (albeit temporarily), and there is certainly plenty on this album for the diehards to sink their teeth into. The Hunna are a band that continue to grow and evolve, and this album ensures that they are as relevant now as they were back in 2016!

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Read our review of Y Not Festival

Live Reviews

Y Not Festival

Green View Farm, Pikehall

28th to 31st July 2022

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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.

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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.

The Hunna – ‘Trash’

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

‘Discover’ New Music Podcast – Episode 14 – 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

The Full Pelt Music Podcast – Episode 3 – 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’.

We Are Scientists – ‘The Great Escape’

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

The Full Pelt Music Podcast – Episode 4 – 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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Read our review of Neck of the Woods Festival