Live Review: Y Not Festival (July 2017)

Problems from the start of Y Not led to an eventful weekend full of cancellations, moving sets and a hell of a lot of mud. After agreeing enough is enough, the organisers chose to cancel the festival on the Sunday morning leaving many festival goers stranded until Monday morning with a lack of food and water. Despite all these misfortunes, we managed to make the best out of a bad weekend…

Starting with Feeder headlining the main stage, drawing a massive crowd in on a sunny Thursday evening. After the end of their set, it didn’t take long for the heavens to open up and rain on everyone’s parade, turning the already muddy fields into one big mud bath. As much as festival organisers cannot predict the weather, they can look at forecasts beforehand and bring in wood chippings or a similar equivalent to help tackle the rain that turned the site into an absolute mess. Poor planning all round proved already so early on into the festival.

Spirits were very high throughout the festival, even though traipsing through the mud to different stages was a whole workout in itself. With the rain still pouring down constantly on Friday, the main stage was a no go for acts with many being cancelled. Sundara Karma were the first to brave the stage, performing under a few garden gazebos about two inches deep in water on stage, followed by The Hunna and Nothing but Thieves. The crowds didn’t mind the rain at all, with everyone still having a ball of a time. Clean Bandit graced the stage after, already cut back to only a DJ set, then leaving the stage after 4 songs before health and safety took over causing them to abandon the soaking stage.

Due to the terrible weather, we took refuge in the many tent stages that festival had to offer, discovering new bands and seeing old favourites too. The Giant Squid was a massive hit for sure, spending the majority of Friday undercover there. First up were Bad Sign, who pulled in the crowds, we’re unsure whether this was due to the weather or just due to the fact they pulled off an awesome set but either way they left with more fans than they came with.

Bad Sign - Y Not Festival

After venturing out in search of some food, with every food vendor slapping London prices up, we opted for some chips and headed back to catch Shvpes, once again the tent was packed right out but they did not disappoint for the many fans who decided to seek refuge in the Giant Squid.

Shvpes - Y Not Festival - 28.7.17

For a change of scenery, we headed to the Quarry stage to catch Tom Grennan’s magical set, with a voice as incredible as his with the stage presence to match it, it’s no surprise that he wowed the massive crowd in front of him.

Tom Grennan - Y Not Festival - 28.7.17

Running through the mud to catch Vukovi was a challenge but well worth it. After catching them at 2000 Trees, we knew we were in for a killer set!

Vukovi - Y Not Festival - 28.7.17

We planned to catch The Magic Gang but they cancelled their set so we stuck around the squid in anticipation for Heck’s set. Terrified for my life in the pit as a mic stand made it’s way through the air in my direction but Heck tore up the stage. Spending more time on the barrier in front of the fans before making their way through the crowd onto the bar, what a show they put on!

Next up were one of my favourite pop punk bands out there at the moment, ROAM. Bouncing out on stage with their catchy lyrics and jumpy songs, the crowd were won over instantly.

ROAM - Y Not Festival - 28.7.17

Now for the two main acts we had been waiting all day to see. We decided to give other headliners a miss to catch Young Guns and Bury Tomorrow tear up the stages. Young Guns put on an incredible performance, with many of their own fans singing lyrics back to them but they gained full crowd participation during their hit song ‘Bones’. Jumping from the barrier to the bar and then crowd surfing, the energetic lot then left the stage for Bury Tomorrow who definitely had a job to do to top that performance.

Young Guns - Y Not Festival - 28.7.17

Bury Tomorrow were easily one of the heaviest bands on the line up, so we were skeptical about how well they would sink into the crowd that awaited them. Being at least 20 minutes late to the stage didn’t work in their favour but after they finally bundled out together the crowd were off their feet, with screaming girls in the front row and a bunch of hardcore fans in the middle already opening up a pit. I was underwhelmed by their performance on a whole but this was mainly due to the tent having the worst sound I’d heard all day at the festival, not so great for your headline band really. All that aside, the guys powered through their set and the crowd loved it.

Bury Tomorrow - Y Not Festival - 28.7.17

After leaving the tent in search of the comfort of my own tent, we realised that The Vaccines hadn’t actually performed on the main stage so our choice of missing them altogether was definitely the right one.

Saturday welcomed us with dry weather for the first time since we arrived on Thursday. This meant the mud had dried out to the sticky stage which was even worse to walk through and even more of a safety hazard but still no straw or wood chippings were in sight. Strange Bones opened up the day for us with one of the best sets of the weekend, spending all his time in the crowd rather than on stage, gaining fans left right and center.

Strange Bones - Y Not Festival - 29.7.17

We braved the main stage as the weather was bright, to find that they’d moved all the sets about and only announced this on screens next to the main stage. Luckily we hadn’t missed anyone we actually wanted to catch, kicking off with Clean Cut Kid.

Clean Cut Kid - Y Not Festival - 29.7.17

19 year old Declan Mckenna took to the main stage after, wearing an Indie Dreamboat t-shirt which is the only way to describe him. His last festival performance before heading off on a massive American tour, one to watch in the near future. We braved the walk up to the Giant Squid to catch Black Foxxes, to find their set had been cancelled and they’d been replaced by King No One. We stuck around so the walk wasn’t a pointless trip and I was pleasantly surprised by the group’s vibe and may have slipped them into my Spotify playlist after their set.

Declan McKenna - Y Not Festival - 29.7.17

Heading back through the mud to catch the Aussie group DMA’s, smoke bombs everywhere, the air around was a rainbow off colours.

DMA's - Y Not Festival - 29.7.17
Slaves had one of the biggest crowds of the day, which is no surprise. As the duo graced the stage, everyone went wild. More smoke bombs accompanied by flares, people on shoulders and crowd surfers galore. Security were having a nightmare, probably due to the sheer lack of security around.

Slaves - Y Not Festival - 29.7.17

After catching Blaenavon’s set at the O2, we had to go and catch them again. Smaller stage, smaller crowd, same exhilarating performance. Big things ahead for these guys for sure.

Blaenavon - Y Not Festival - 29.7.17

Sheafs had performed a set earlier in the day in the Allotment stage which we’d unfortunately missed, so when we heard they were replacing Nadia Rose in the Quarry we had to make it up to see them. As they replaced Nadia Rose with no announcement from Y Not, the crowd were confused and a little angered, with the band walking out on stage to be greeted with a cup of something thrown at them instantly. We think they won over the crowd by the end though…

Sheafs - Y Not Festival - 29.7.17

As Stereophonics were brought forward to an earlier time of 8:30, we headed down so we actually saw a headliner over the weekend. Not knowing this would be the only headliner we would have the opportunity to catch at the time. The weather held off until the very end, as they drew the night to a close with their hit Dakota accompanied by a bunch of fireworks.

Waking up Sunday morning to everyone around us packing up led us straight to believe that the whole thing had been cancelled, confirmed only by a Facebook post. Brilliant when you’re in a field with minimal signal surrounded by stewards that never have any idea what is going on.

Overall the weekend wasn’t as bad as Y Not made it out to be. The mud was bad but that was down to poor planning, we live in England, it rains all the time, bigger festivals such as Leeds and Glastonbury have coped in a lot worse weather. The right decision was made to cancel, as the site was a health hazard, bands were cancelling left right and center, making the weekend a less enjoyable experience than anyone had ever planned for.

Maybe next year we’ll get more security, more planning, a better stage that can deal with rain and maybe a few more announcements too so people actually know what’s going on...

Words and Photography by Ami Ford