Y Not Festival 2013 review

'Y-Not Festival continues to grow and evolve'

Jamie Barker - 05 August 2013

Recent years have seen Y-Not Festival grow and evolve and, once again, tickets sold out in advance this year. With recognition coming from all corners, not least the accolade of a 'Best Small Festival' award, it's rapidly becoming a highlight of the summer calendar.

Crushing Blows (7), as with many of the acts appearing across the seven stages, are local to the festival. The duo have certainly christened themselves with an appropriate name but today they don't quite reach the heights of previous performances. My First Tooth (8) are a party band in disguise. It's difficult to make it through their set with anything other than a smile and it's surprising that more mainstream media outlets have yet to pick up on their quirky, folk-influenced offerings. They whip through a relatively short set and even find time to dispense cocktails to the front few rows of the receptive early afternoon audience.

Public Service Broadcasting (9) try their best but the blazing sunshine pouring into the tent makes it very difficult for their visuals to have their usual impact. Songs like 'Spitfire' have contributed to the unassuming duo being one 2013's most unlikely success stories. Even without the public information clips which make the live show such a multi-sensory experience, the likes of 'London Can Take It' still get people moving as the 'chorus' kicks in. Stagecoach (10), with the exception of a quiet period in the past year, have been touring the country for several years now and they’ve recently got round to releasing debut album ‘Say Hi To The Band’. Their set today contains highlights from that release, such as ‘Action’, but the real gems arrive in the form of chaotic material from their early EP releases. They even invite Johnny Foreigner’s Alexei Berrow onstage for a climactic rendition of ‘Good Luck With Your 45’ and the whole set feels like on big love-in.

Max Raptor (8) have become something of a permanent fixture over the past few years at Y-Not Festival and today their evening slot on The Giant Squid has a celebratory air about it for the local outfit. Taking heavy influences from across the Atlantic, not least Canadian’s Billy Talent, they’re still original enough to plough their own furrow. With a second album set for release later this year, Max Raptor are surely going to be receiving similar receptions further away from home. It would be unfair to judge Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip (8) on their performance tonight as they’re forced to stop their set while the entire festival site is evacuated to make way for an imminent electrical storm. Normal service eventually resumes but with The Quarry half-full of confused, wet people, it’s hardly surprising that the reception is a little subdued.

The Horrors (6) are also affected by the extreme weather conditions as they take to the stage after a lengthy delay to play a slightly truncated set of just seven songs. With many people opting to stay in the safety of their tents after the lightning storm, it’s unsurprising that the crowd is sparse for their headline performance. Those who do brave the weather are offered the opportunity to catch the band in a dark, brooding setting which correlates perfectly with material like, set opener, ‘Mirror’s Image’. The entire set is drawn from their two most recent albums which is hardly surprising given the extent to which their sound has matured since ‘Strange House’ was released six years ago.  Their penultimate offering ‘Still Life’ gets the strongest reaction of the night and leads into an epic rendition of ‘Moving Further Away’ which clocks in at over ten minutes. Booking The Horrors as a Main Stage headliner was always a risk and tonight, perhaps due to some factors outside of the band’s control, it didn’t quite pay off.


Drenge (8) have recently found themselves at the centre of an unusual political argument but all that's forgotten as soon as the duo thrust their music down the throats of the swelling mainstage crowd. The two-man set-up doesn't allow much room for eclecticism but, for now, there's no real need for variety when your one trick sounds this good. 

65daysofstatic (7) are gearing up to release another album this autumn and their main stage set allows them to showcase some of their brooding new material. Despite their initial frustration at a fairly reticent crowd, the sparse landscape and foreboding grey skies provide the perfect backdrop for their dark epics.

Kids In Glass Houses (7) have continued maturing while many of their peers stood still, their extended offering allows them to offer a rounded showcase of their career to date. Unsurprisingly it's early single 'Saturday' which provides the sing-along highlight even in the face of the stronger recent material.

Ash (10) could easily have headlined this festival. Within the first ten minutes of their slot, they've already whipped through three singles which most bands on the bill would die for. Even album tracks like, band favourite, 'Walking Barefoot' receive a strong reaction from the huge main stage audience. As they close with an energetic rendition of 'Burn Baby Burn' the only regret is that the old masters weren't given more time to work their magic.

The Cribs (8) have had a long climb to the kind of success which allows you to headline festivals. Their first two albums were largely ignored upon release and it wasn't until Johnny Marr joined for the fourth album that they truly received mainstream exposure. It's probably unsurprising then that large chunks of their headline slot see them drawing heavily on recent material. While some newer tracks, like opener 'Chi-Town', work perfectly, others fall flat due to large-scale unfamiliarity. When they do delve further into their back catalogue, the likes of 'Mirror Kissers' positively explode from the huge stage and 'Another Number' prompts a field full of voices imitating the opening riff. 'Men's Needs' would have been a perfect close to the set but they follow up the club night favourite with 'City of Bugs'.

Scholars (8) have matured into a very different prospect than their early demos suggested. Today they shake clear any Sunday morning hangovers with a slick brand of modern rock. Self-assured and with the songs to back it up, Scholars are a force to be reckoned with, it's just a shame that songs like 'Recovery Monday' no longer have a part to play. Over on The Quarry stage, The History of Apple Pie (6) struggle to mould their charming rock n roll into something which can capably own their bigger surroundings. Enjoyable enough but, by the end of the set, the crowd are busier rain-watching than looking at the band.

The Physics House Band (5) were never going to be an obvious Sunday afternoon fixture. They display outstanding musicianship through their flowing instrumentals but they'd have been better suited to a late night slot where the crowd were involved rather than bewildered. Wandering around Y-Not's eclectic small stages always throws up unexpected pleasures and Pro-Verb (9) is no exception. With a sound reminiscent of Jamie-T, he has his tongue planted firmly in his cheek as he whips through a series of catchy numbers about Hermione Granger and being beaten up by pensioners.

We Were Promised Jetpacks (9) sound incredible on the Main Stage. They may lean a little too heavily on their drawn-out epics, their slot only takes in five songs, but closing with 'It's Thunder and It's Lightning' is wholly appropriate after the weekend's weather histrionics. The start of The Joy Formidable's (9) set is plagued by sound issues but once the kinks are ironed out they power through one of the weekend's most engrossing sets.

The Darkness (9) have had a lifetime of ups and downs in their ten year career but, a decade later, the prime 'Permission To Land' cuts can still whip a field into a sweaty frenzy. Their headline set quickly deals with the obligatory new material before Justin Hawkins assures the crowd that the old favourites are coming up. 'Growing On Me' makes an early appearance and the accompanying mimicked falsettos are deafening but a sign of the Y-Not crowd embracing a band often dismissed as a novelty act. 'Love Is Only A Feeling' prompts a wave of swaying arms and a handful of power-ballad, lighters-in-the-air. As the set nears its conclusion, Hawkins teases the opening riff of 'I Believe in a Thing Called Love'. When the early single finally kicks in there's mud flying everywhere as the whole field bounces in unison. During a crunching ten minute version of 'Love On The Rocks (With No Ice)', which provides an epic conclusion, drummer Ed is the only man left onstage as the rest of the band all crowd-surf from the back of the field. It's unlikely that The Darkness will ever recapture their early success but they can still put on an outstanding live show.


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