One thing that is certainly not unusual in the Peak District, home to award-winning Y Not Festival, is rain. So when Friday headliners (The Vaccines) and the final day of the event were cancelled due to ‘adverse weather conditions’, speculation spread as to why the organisers had not prepared for this likely event. As someone who attended the festival for the first time in 2016, I was disappointed to see that what had quickly become my new favourite had struggled to cope with the changes in management and huge new 28,000 capacity. Despite being left with a bitter taste in my mouth, I was still blown away by many of the acts that I did manage to see.
After setting up our tent in the pouring rain, as Sundara Karma perform on the main stage, we headed into the already muddy arena. In The Allotment, promotional team This Feeling were curating a stage of must-see upcoming bands, here to prove guitar music is truly thriving. Being picked up by this established platform has proved successful at helping break some of the greatest new bands. This was clear with the first band we manage to catch, BlackWaters, who are popping up on bills across the country. Their catchy punk-influenced songs shook through the crowd as they effortlessly tore the tent apart. The memorable track So Far Out, which was produced by Carl Barat, is a comment on the countries worrisome political state. These guys definitely know what they are doing! Next up, Brighton-based White Room performed a set of psychedelic tunes impossible not to sway to. Although lacking guitar solos that warrant association with Eric Clapton, these guys show potential to bring some 60’s nostalgia to the UK’s music scene. In contrast, The Giant Squid played host to pop punk 5-piece Roam, who did their best to get raise energy levels. The band played plenty of songs from new album Backbone, including the incredibly popular Hopeless Case.
Unfortunately, the torrential rain meant that bands performing on the main stage faced major disruptions, with some sets even being cancelled. Clean Bandit, who were only able to perform a live PA set shortened to just four songs, were protected onstage by a small gazebo. Opening with old favourite Rather Be, the group still managed to get the whole crowd singing along, despite the setbacks. New track Symphony was a clear highlight, as drinks went flying over the sea of fans all still clearly up for a good time.
Whilst waiting for Friday headliners, The Vaccines, we stood in the pouring rain as their equipment was set up, only to quickly be wheeled off again as the rain became nothing short of torrential. A 1984-style voice announced that the set was cancelled as it was unsafe for the band to play. People left disappointed, to say the least.
Naturally, Saturday was the highlight of the whole festival. With very few cancellations and even some sunny spells it looked as if the rest of the weekend might even run smoothly! Of course the mud was tiresome – but after Truck I could handle anything! Anglo-Aussie psych band, Splashh, opened with old favourite Lemonade from their debut album Comfort. Material from this paled in comparison to songs from their recent release Waiting A Lifetime, which sounds confidently individual. ‘We had a heavy night last night’ announces guitarist Toto – we could tell – but luckily the music spoke for itself. The band ended with an extended version of Need It and it was all over too soon.
On the main stage, acts were moved forward to avoid the rain forecast for the evening. Fresh-faced Declan McKenna strutted across the stage in a tight DIY Indie Dreamboat t-shirt as the crowd (mainly young girls) happily sung back to him. DMAs channelled 90’s Britpop as they swaggered about the stage in sports-jackets and baseball caps – they could have been easily mistaken Manchester locals rather than native Australians, but luckily they brought the sun with them!
Up next, Slaves performed an eclectic set from their array of albums. Lies off their most recent one, Take Control, was a personal favourite and nice change from their usual style of abrasive punk. Jake Bugg was pitch-perfect as he opened for headliners, Stereophonics, who sounded even better than on record. But the real headliner for us came over at The Quarry (where the tent has nearly doubled in size since the previous year) where Example and DJ Wire performed a set of throwback hits that got the whole crowd moving, even those spilling into the rain outside the tent.
Waking up on Sunday morning to rumors that the last day of the festival was being cancelled altogether was nothing short of pure confusion. We struggled to see how these ‘adverse weather conditions’ that were no different to those seen at Truck the previous weekend (or most British festivals for that matter) would be reason enough to call everything off! We were met with the disappointing realisation that we would not be seeing some of the acts we were most looking forward to, including Kate Nash, Maximo Park, Crows, Pulled Apart By Horses, Menace Beach, Two Door Cinema Club and of course Happy Mondays! This was almost as despairing as the realisation that our coach back to London would still be arriving on Monday morning, and we would have to spend 24 hours entertaining ourselves as almost everyone else packed up and went home! A lot of things went wrong for Y Not Festival this year; we can only hope that this learning curve won’t mean the end of the much-loved event.