Review: Y Not festival, Pikehall, 02–04/08/13

Is this the way they say the future’s meant to feel, or just 20,000 people standing in a field?

Well, it’s a little closer to 8,000 people this year at Y Not festival in Derbyshire, and what a way it’s come since the 500 in attendance at the first instalment in 2006. Seven years down the line, the event has got bigger, the line-ups have got better and you can now piss in a pot and have your sexual health tested in exchange for a tasteful hat just like at all the rest of them. But just how far are small festivals the future of the festival experience?

There’s a satisfactory selection of food stalls dotted around the site, though they’re offering food at around the same price as Reading/Leeds sized events and there are no real niche stands which you couldn’t find anywhere else. There are six stages, a ‘Reggae’ Tent (in a very loose sense of the word) and enough to keep you occupied after hours, though not all night.

There is a good variety of musical genres on show and clashes are minimal, meaning that the only way you’re gonna be disappointed about missing a band is if they happen to be rained off by a thunderstorm. And come on, like that’s gonna happen.

This year, there are fantastic performances from these bands:

The Cribs, who put in one of the performances of their lifetime (and Tweet about it afterwards; “I could try to explain how amazing @Y_Not_Festival was last night, but I just can’t. One of the best Cribs shows ever” – Ross Jarman). Crafting a trademark frenetic set from the best bits of five albums, they completely captivate the crowd and prove that after ten years, they’re more a band of brothers than ever before.

The thunderstorm which rains off Mystery Jets about 20 minutes into their set on Friday night also condenses the performance of The Horrors who, as a result, only get chance to play around seven songs of predominantly third album material. Which is a slight disappointment to fans eagerly awaiting the arrival of their fourth album which has been promised for early next year. However even the storm isn’t enough to dampen their consistently beautiful performance, and shrouded in blue lights fading to black, The Horrors prove why they’re one of the most interesting bands making music right now.

Swim Deep are gaining home crowd style reactions outside of their native West Midlands and put in one of the performances of the weekend on Saturday afternoon, playing tracks from their debut album including King City, Honey, She Changes the Weather and The Sea as well as a genuinely brilliant cover of Girls Just Wanna Have Fun by Cyndi Lauper. In the pouring rain, the four-piece demonstrate that their live performance has progressed phenomenally since their beginnings and if the reaction of about 1,000 screaming and sodden girls is anything to go by, the only way is up.

Manchester’s Dutch Uncles, celebrated for their A-typical time signatures and more recently the way they utilise a glockenspiel, also garner a great reaction. Now on album number three, whether the quintet will progress any further with their niche-market sound is debatable but they deserve every ounce of praise they receive and more and their extended cover of Grace Jones’ Slave to the Rhythm wins them more fans as they go.

And Public Service Broadcasting, who reject vocals in favour of looping old bits of BBC audio are a beautiful and interesting respite in The Quarry tent, away from the main stage action.

With a line-up which also includes the likes of Dan Le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip, Stealing Sheep, Fiction, Temples, Dry The River and Johnny Foreigner, it sure ain’t bad for your £80.

This year, Y Not feels like a very family-orientated festival – there’s lots of space for family camping and the number of be-mac’d little ‘uns being carted around in ‘Trolley Tots’ carts is quite spectacular. If you’re looking for the full blown festival experience then this isn’t it – unless you have an over 18’s wristband, they will confiscate your alcohol and pour it out in front of you, thereby really embodying the festival spirit. However, if you’re looking to start off nice and slow and gain value for money and the experience of watching some genuinely top class acts, then Y Not festival is as good as any.

Get your 2014 tickets for 2013 prices, here.

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