Feature: Y-NOT Festival 2012

Now in it's 5th year, Derbyshire's Y-NOT Festival promises to be "small, fresh and loud". With such prestigous awards as the "grassroots festival award" and "best toilets" a great weekend was expected. Rob tootled on down to enjoy the event. 

I bet most festival reviews this year have begun with the weather, what it was like and why it single handedly ruined what could have been a grand occasion. Well, I’m not going to do that, partly because the weather at Y-NOT was actually pretty ok, but also because the weather at festivals is usually bad, get over it.

Arriving Friday night I couldn’t quite believe how much the festival had grown, not so much in size but certainly in choice. Everywhere I turned I saw something new and exciting, from juggling and unicycles to craft stores and shisha, it was certainly eclectic.

Taking all this in as quickly as possible we made our way towards the main stage, after all this was a festival, and we had bands to see. First on our list to see were Scottish heroes Frightened Rabbit. They have been on my list of bands to see for quite some time and they did not disappoint, with their sing a long indie-rock songs about a man’s desperation to get into a girls undergarments at the expense of any other pursuits, the crowds feet were continually moving as well as their hips. With the sun setting over Y-NOT, it was clear this was going to be a cracking weekend.

Unfortunately in my old age, the idea of camping at a festival seems less and less pleasant, luckily for me I have some friends who live just a stones throw from the festival site, they had a sofa, central heating and breakfast and shower facilities. In my opinion every festival should have this.

The next day feeling fully refreshed we arrived in time for Hatch’d favourites Crushing Blows. This year they played a much bigger stage but still had no problem filling it, especially with Chris’ all new dance routines. Their newer songs are certainly more “poppy” than their originals, however they haven’t lost those intricate guitar melodies and perfect driving drums. I must say I always feel a bit sorry for the drummer Andrew who seems to have a new job dumped on him each time I see them. He now plays keyboard, drums and sings! ALL at the same time! It’s like he has three brains or something.

Following Crushing Blows we made our way to the all-new Giant Squid stage (named following a Facebook competition) for Tall Ships. I don’t remember the last time I was as excited about a bands EP as Tall Ship’s, it is simply stunning, and their live show easily lived up to that. Their set was a mix of, sweat, stupidity and shenanigans which resulted in stern looks from the stage security, it turns out climbing on each other’s shoulders is NOT cool, well, I think we can agree it definitely is.

After a couple of hours of recovery time in the bar we put one foot in front of the other and moved again towards the main stage, this time for British Sea Power, a band I have seen no less than ten times before. I have to say their newest album doesn’t do much for me and I think they may have realised that, playing absolutely nothing from it. Instead they played songs such as Spirit of St. Louis, a rare but popular b-side and fear of drowning. It was an amazing set; the only thing missing in my opinion was a man in a bear suit hitting a man in owl suit with a foam guitar.

Saturday ended for me with ILIKETRAINS. A band I knew little about but had heard interesting things, anyway between them and the Wombats it was a clear decision, the lead singer even commented on the small crowd saying “well, at least we know we’ve made the right decision”. His dry sense of humour fitted perfectly with their dark, eerie almost haunting post rock set, certainly one of the better sets of the weekend.

After another blissful rest in the comfort of a quaint Derbyshire cottage, we made our way back for the final day of Y-NOT. First up on Paul Herron’s acoustic stage were Derby based ruffians My Psychoanalyst performing as a rare three piece, and the original three piece at that. Before they started however, the audience were treated to Paul’s Gin fuelled; Sunday morning potty mouth after some young up-to-no gooder stole the line-up poster from the entrance. No child’s ears were safe, even with the microphone turned right down, Paul’s anger filled the tent.

With everyone on edge, My Psych were a brilliant way to calm the nerves, playing a lot more melodically as an acoustic band and dare I say almost “folky”. While they played old favourites such as We Disagree, they are concentrating more on their newer material in anticipation of their forthcoming album set for release early next year, it’s sounding amazing and I can’t wait. Other than that they played a cover of “I only have eyes” which prompted the great game of making eye contact with lead singer James Machin to try and make him uncomfortable. And it worked.

As the sun was setting over Y-NOT for the final time this year I was met with a decision, do I see Slow Club, a band I like very much and haven’t seen for quite a while? Or do I see Haiku Salut? A band I had seen 8 times in a row just one week before? Without keeping you in suspense much longer, I of course chose Haiku Salut.

Although once described as “Like Sigur Ros, if Sigur Ros were from the North and had toy instruments” I think Haiku Salut have evolved into something quite unique, mixing classical French instrumentation with glitch style electronica almost as if it was the most natural thing in the world. To the untrained eye it may appear like someone had accidently spilt a music shop onto the stage, however the three members move (almost) effortlessly from instrument to instrument to create an intricate soundscape like no other.

With old age finally taking it's toll I made my way back to the car in order to get an early night. An amazing weekend was had and I can't wait until next year.

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