The sun is shining, there’s plenty of glitter, beer and band T-Shirts and everyone seems suitably excited for four days of indie/rock/alt-action at this years Y-Not Festival in Derby.
The weekend boasts an impressive bill featuring the likes of Jamiroquia, Catfish And The Bottlemen and Kaiser Chiefs to name but a few of the 100+ bands on the line up.
Following a shaky 2017, the pressure is on this year for the festival to deliver and, despite some atrocious weather, suffice to say Y Not 2018 fulfils its promises this time around.
Opening up the Giant Squid Stage on Friday were Newcastle’s Ground Culture. One of the heavier bands on the bill, they blast through their set bringing a tight mix of hardcore metal with soaring choruses to the somewhat surprised crowd. Sadly, they like many bands on this stage, they suffer from bad sound, with much of the bass and guitars being completely lost. Despite this, they own their set and kick things off with a bang. (7/10)
Next up were Anavae. Their elevator pitch is essentially Paramore meets Stomp-inspired percussion. Of course, there’s much more to them than that, and front-woman Rebecca Need-Menear’s vocals carry the band from punchy rock-sections through to chilled ambient moments. The band have a tonne of impact and close their set with three-piece drum solo which saw all the band members beating giant floor toms in unison. Anavae are easily one of the more stand-out bands from today’s offerings. (8/10)
Holding Absence are on a short time later. Fresh from a string of festival appearances the band have clearly benefited from a busy summer as their sound is polished and precise. Frontman Lucas Woodland manages to wake up the largely docile crowd with precision-clean vocals (that’s singing, for all the non-metal fans among you) and a cool command of the stage. Holding Absence look very much at home here. (8/10)
Mallory Knox sub-headline the Giant Squid stage and benefit from a packed out tent and superior sound (one of the pluses of having your own sound-engineer).
While the band play well and clearly entertain the crowd, there’s a laid-back feel to their set which at times comes across as a slight lack of energy. Whether this is due to an exhaustive touring cycle or some personal band issues which were eluded too by the members on stage I don’t know. None-the-less, it’s a good but slightly underwhelming effort from the Cambridge rock-outfit. (6/10)
It’s Saturday, and after a thunderstorm hits the festival today’s crowds are looking noticeably cold and fed up.
Perfect timing then for 1990s TV personality Mr Motivator to bring his bizarre brand of live-fitness/workout instruction to the stage.
I can only describe what follows as one of the most incredible spectacles I’ve ever witnessed.
4,000 people cram into a tent as 65 year old Derrick Evans (Mr Motivator) guides the hypnotised crowd through a series of high-impact cardio routines all set to pumping dance music.
The punters obey every shouted command without question, gyrating and jumping up and down in perfect unison. While it’s questionable if Mr Evans owns the necessary Copyright licenses to any of the well-known songs in his set, it’s none the less a sight to behold and one I shan’t forget. (9/10)
Next up it’s Pale Waves on the main stage. A personal highlight for me, bringing their own brand of new-wave, 80s-inspired floaty pop to a very wet crowd. The band flawlessly make their way through hits like “Television Romance” and “There’s A Honey” sounding incredibly close to the studio versions of the songs. Pale Waves have blown up in popularity recently and it’s easy to see why with such a strong live offering. (10/10)
UK based rock outfit The Amazons brave a very damp main stage shortly after. They mix a traditional indie-rock sound with the types of riffs that wouldn’t be out of place on a modern metal record. It’s a good set, with vocalist Matt Thomson being a particular strong point. However, some of the impact of songs like “In My Mind” doesn’t quite convey in quite the way you’d want it to from such an experienced band. It’s debatable whether this is the fault of the band or a slightly lacking main stage sound. Regardless, they put on a good show and the now sodden crowd seem satisfied. (7/10)
The Black Futures are on early doors on the final day of the festival. The synth heavy two-piece hit like a wrecking ball through a minefield and deliver easily the heaviest set of the weekend. Prodigy vibes are everywhere and the atmosphere is made even better by a blinding light show, excessive smoke and a flag-waving performer behind the band dressed in full hazmat suit. The Black Futures are a band that need to be experienced live, preferably not in a sober state. (9/10)
Disco-funk titans Jamiriquai close out the festival and, despite having their set cut due to health and safety gremlins, bring note-perfect production to Y Not. Frontman JK sounds every bit as phenomenal now as he did 35 years ago when the band debuted. The hypnotic light show, sassy all-female backing vocals and blistering funk bass set the beaming crowd off dancing like a 90s disco. Mercifully we hear the likes of “Space Cowboy” and “Cosmic Girl” before the sound is pulled a full 40 minutes before schedule, the crowd aren’t happy, but this can hardly be blamed on the band and the short time we were blessed with was a masterclass in live music. (10/10)