Photos: Christy Hill
Arriving at a festival just as it's gone dark isn't the most sensible of ways to begin a weekend in a field, yet that's the way we chose to begin Y-Not Festival, a small, yet perfectly sized event (though it has downsized from last year's festival) that takes place atop one of Derbyshire's many hills. Only an hour or so's drive from Manchester, we didn't bank on getting almost spectacularly lost somewhere on the other side of Buxton, with only sheep to ask for directions. As such we arrive on site just after 9pm and opt, rather sensibly, to pass on going to see Thursday night's entertainment Goldie Lookin' Chain and instead just listen whilst setting up our tent behind the main stage. Hearing the band close with their 'classic' 'Guns Don't Kill People', we decide a fresh head tomorrow is probably ideal and call it a night.
Morning comes, and so to, in true festival spirit, do the sounds of some middle class hippies filling balloons with laughing gas. Despite a somewhat overcast morning it's reasonably warm and after a couple of drinks we head in to the arena for some food and first band of the day Hey Sholay. Though there's barely a crowd at this time in the morning, the band have an energy and a sound that wouldn't go amiss with some of the bigger names around at the moment. Opening track 'Wishbone' gets a warm reception from some established fans, whilst seeing the modest crowd almost double by its end. For the opening act of the day, and for many, the weekend, Hey Sholay have a penchant for impactive, crowd-pleasing tracks that are inevitably destined for bigger crowds and bigger stages.
A meander across site takes us to Mussel Beach, a cocktail bar filled with deckchairs and bad puns. The cocktails are spot on though, if not a little limited, but they certainly seem to go down well with punters across the weekend.
Time for self-proclaimed gutter rapper Itch now who draws an impressive mid-afternoon crowd over at The Quarry Stage. Renowned for his energy as ex-front-man in The King Blues, on his own it surpasses that, seeing him relish in the room the stage provides. Until he ends up in the heaving mass of bodies stage front, that is, even managing to keep to the beat as he's mobbed. It's an impressive performance again for so early in the day, though a little more of his Manifesto EPs wouldn't have gone amiss.
Back on the Main Stage, Manchester's Sonic Boom Six ply their abrasive blend of ska, hip-hop and anarcho ideology. It's heavy stuff, and not perhaps what some people were expecting given the looks on some faces. Having seen the Boom before however it's par for the course and they manage to get a decent number of people moving before their set ends.
'Banter of the Day' award would probably have to go to Spector however, who tell the crowd they “look a million dollars..Australian dollars” and that this is “the best festival in Derbyshire...well maybe second”. The highlight of the evening however comes as a surprise in the form of Razorlight, whose set is filled with their back catalogue of hits such as 'Golden Touch' and 'In the Morning'. Someone behind me in a lesser band shouts for singer Johnny Borrell to change his clothes, ironic since this guy didn't change his all weekend either. The crowd reaction to Razorlight is probably what's most surprising however, as if they're a band whose popularity never waned. Their set is impressive though, and you can't help but think the crowd might have preferred them as a headliner.
Closing out the Friday are White Lies whose huge sound is big enough to headline most festivals, and are certainly more suitable a headliner than Razorlight would have been, at least in terms of relevancy; it feels somewhat lessened however, by the crowd's earlier response and tracks such as 'Fairwell to the Fairground' and 'To Lose My Life' do go down as well as expected. White Lies sound is sonorous, it's emotive, it's impassioned, but it's not music to party to. And though there are plenty of people here enjoying themselves, you can't help but think that their sound is lost on some of the younger members of the crowd, of which, to Y-Not's credit, there are many, making it a surprisingly family-friendly festival should you wish to bring them.
With that, we call it a night once again, impressed by the quietness of where we're camped and grateful too, of the placing of the “Rock and Roll” camp-site, situated at the back of the site, away from the Family Camping and Glamping sections, and, judging by the look of many a hungover teenager's face the following morning, plenty more people could have done with a quieter night too.