LIVE REVIEW >> Y Not Festival

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Pikehall, Derbyshire // Friday 1 – Sunday 3 August, 2014

I ventured out into a rather rainy Peak District to enjoy a weekend of great live music at the awesome Y Not Festival, which has a little something for everyone.

Just take a look at the weekend’s headliners – WHITE LIES, DIZZEE RASCAL and FRANK TURNER. Even ANDREW WK made a rare solo appearance.

Y Not Festival - Itch

Things started for me on Friday with former King Blues frontman ITCH. He’s ever the cool frontman, sailing through songs from his solo album The Deep End accompanied only by Screwface, a keyboard player who wears a mask of a crying baby. Towards the end, he climbs into the crowd, to the security’s obvious displeasure.

Y Not Festival - Sonic Boom Six

Afterwards, I rush to the Big Gin Stage, but SONIC BOOM SIX are already well underway with a lively crowd. The band use the opportunity to play two songs from their upcoming album, and the more retro, ska-tinged Drop the Bass and Pick It Up goes over especially well.

Later in the Quarry Tent, indie outfit CIRCA WAVES are tight and energetic, giving the impression upward momentum, before TOM VEK‘s polished, understated set.

The crowd swells in time for REEL BIG FISH, who play with hit after hit, the crowd hanging onto frontman Aaron Barrett’s every word. The ‘Master of Musical Styles’ medley is good fun, the band performing the same song in different styles genres, including an alarmingly authentic death metal impression, and Laila and Barney from Sonic Boom Six make a reappearance for Hiding In My Headphones.

On Saturday, we kicked things off with BEANS ON TOAST playing to a Quarry Tent so packed that there are rows of fans queuing outside. His good-humoured patter is not far removed from his stream-of-consciousness lyrics, and he makes both enjoyable, with songs about everything from drugged-up festivals to chicken farms.

Japanese guitarist HOTEI may be the only performer at Y Not with the distinction of having written a film score – the Kill Bill theme, which is the highlight of his set.

CATFISH AND THE BOTTLEMEN up the tempo, getting plenty of fans on shoulders in a confident display, before THE FRATELLIS play a greatest hits set.

The songs from Costello Music sound spectacular, none more so than a superb Chelsea Dagger, and more recent songs like Jeannie Nitro hold their own, but the crowd never really gets going.

Headliner DIZZEE RASCAL may be out of place in a line-up made up mostly of indie bands, but when his DJ announces “The number one MC in the UK”, it’s already clear that the audience is up for it.

His performance is divided roughly in half, with the earlier, more aggressive songs first and his recent megahits later. The lazers, streamers and pyro only add to a charismatic performance, the family-unfriendly Sirens a standout moment.

Y Not Festival - Natives

Melodic rockers NATIVES put in a strong performance on Sunday, winning over some new fans. There’s a real rock theme in the Giant Squid tent today, with BLACK MOTH blasting distortion-laden riffs straight out of the 70s.

If they’re heavy, they pale in comparison to BABY GODZILLA – everything about their set is chaotic, from the crowdsurfing to the frantic strobing of the lights, and the half-hour concludes with the drummer playing in the middle of a circle pit.

Y Not Festival - Baby Godzilla

BLITZ KIDS have more people singing along than moshing, with songsfrom The Good Youth getting a good response. LOSTALONE, armed with a double-necked guitar, are there to have a good time, calling on the crowd to jump on the spot “like Michael Jordan”.

On the Big Gin Stage, DE LA SOUL are all about fun as well: their synchronisation and camaraderie means driving their set, even if much of the crowd is too young to remember them.

Y Not Festival - Frank Turner

Tonight’s headline act FRANK TURNER AND THE SLEEPING SOULS have the audience in the palm of their hands from the off, and Frank’s performance looks effortless. It’s hard to pick a highlight from this set, but an upbeat, almost rock ‘n’ roll rendition of Long Live The Queen and closer Four Simple Words are standout moments.

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