Y Not festival 2017 took place the weekend of 27th-30th July but was cut short due to the muddy weather, nevertheless we still made the most out of the weekend!
Review by Jane Howkins.
This review is one of the strangest ones we’ve had to do. For those not in the know, Y Not Festival was cancelled early on the Sunday morning, mostly due to the awful conditions and organisation issues that seemed to have plagued the festival from day one. It’s a bit of a mixed bag really, as we did have some fun over the weekend, however there were also a lot of issues that we really feel should be raised so that improvements can be made next time around (if there is a next time!)
We finally arrived on the Friday afternoon, after being stuck in a two hour queue outside the festival. There is always going to be traffic at these sorts of things and we understand that, however it seemed excessive (especially considering larger festivals like Leeds and Download don’t seem to have such queues). It also took us a long time find a campsite as there were no signs and hardly any maps for punters. The few members of staff dotted around didn’t seem to know where the various campsites were either which seemed odd, but we soon brushed it off with a cider.
We finally headed out at about 6pm to see some acts, heading first to the Saloon Bar to see The Chris Moody Band. The Saloon Bar is a tiny, western themed venue (as the title suggests), and ended up being one of our favourite places of the weekend. The Chris Moody Band were excellent, and a cover of Bruce Springsteen’s Dancing In The Dark at the end was particularly rousing. We then headed to the Allotment Stage to catch Blackwaters, to find that they had performed quite a while ago, with a different band on stage. This was another issue we found throughout the weekend, with stage times changing drastically from the ones online and in the programs, and there were no signs outside the venues saying what they were or who was playing.
We headed back to the Saloon Bar to stay inside and caught The Outriders, who were absolutely fantastic. They played a form of country music that got the whole room dancing, desperately whooping like the cowboys they were. We also attempted to see some of Clean Bandit’s set, however it was over very quickly, lasting for a maximum of twenty minutes. The group were forced to put on a short DJ set because of the weather, and many fans were left disappointed. Most of the acts on the main stage on the Friday cancelled, and headliners The Vaccines also ended up dropping out, due to the weather. This isn’t really the fault of the bands but the festival organisers, as they had not prepared for wet weather, and the stage started sinking at one point. Whilst it did rain a lot, there was far less mud than at other, larger festivals in recent years, but the organisers did not really put any wood chippings, hay, or boards down to walk on, and the few staff that were there didn’t seem to even attempt to help anyone. As we were leaving that evening, we spotted a lot of the staff members evacuating the site, and when we arrived back the next day, noticed that there was hardly any staff or security at all.
The weather was a lot better on the Sunday, and we managed to see some more acts. The times for the main stage had been changed again which was slightly annoying, but we still got to see who we wanted to see. Clean Cut Kid were on the main stage as we arrived, and we caught the end of their set, with We Used To Be In Love being a particular banger. Next up was singer-songwriter Declan McKenna who didn’t disappoint, although a bit more onstage banter would have been nice. He’s a fantastic young singer-songwriter though, and well worth seeing at any other festivals, as he’s playing quite a few this year. After that, it was time to head across to The Quarry, where festival regular Beans On Toast was playing. You certainly couldn’t criticise Beans for not having any good on stage chat, with laughs galore to be heard throughout the tent. His songs might be a little preachy to some, but we enjoyed him – just take it with a pinch of salt if his politics aren’t your cup of tea!
We decided it would be fun to try something a bit different afterwards, so headed to the Malibu Club to boogie. The Malibu Club was a DJ tent that played lots of different sets throughout the day – when we arrived it was classic rock, but they also had ska, soundtrack, and 80s sets. It’s a great idea and means that punters can have a dance to some different styles all in one day, however we found it odd that they festival didn’t have any set times for the tent, and when we requested them in advance, they just sent us a picture of the times for a different stage. Next, it was time to catch the end of punk rock duo Slaves. They’re very much a Marmite band, and some of the people we were with didn’t like them, but we reckon a lot of people just don’t ‘get’ them. They’re one of the rawest bands on the scene at the moment and don’t make music for the catchy crowd, but we like that about them. We decided to stay at the main stage for the last two acts of the night, who were Jake Bugg and Stereophonics. Bugg was fantastic and possibly our favourite act of the whole festival. He didn’t have much to say on stage, but still managed to command the crowd, with each song being a massive sing-along. Last, but certainly not least, were the Stereophonics, who drew a massive audience – possibly the biggest one we saw all weekend. They have a reputation for being a little mechanical on stage, and whilst that was true, there were enough sing-alongs to pull them through. The issue with the Stereophonics is that some of their songs can be a little drab, but final track Dakota managed to shake off the haters, showing just why people love this band.
Whenever we’ve been to a festival before, we’ve found the staff and security to be very helpful, and there always seems to be a lot of people around to help, if you so need it. At Y Not however, there seemed to be hardly anyone, apart from a couple of wristband checkers (who didn’t even check properly), and a ridiculous amount of sniffer dogs on the door. 60 tents were raided by robbers with people asleep in them on the Thursday night alone, and bags weren’t checked properly, which seems bad considering the current terrorism threat. Staff didn’t know where anything was and were downright rude to many people, and there didn’t seem to be many medical staff on duty, if at all. The VIP, disabled, and family campsites got overrun with people without the proper wristbands, and we noticed on the Saturday that there was hardly any security on the doors at all. Lots of people without tickets managed to get in, and we even accidentally managed to get backstage by accident without being checked, so it’s really lucky that nobody got hurt, as gangs were roaming the campsites and stealing things at one point. Drinking water also ran out in the campsites, and the toilets didn’t seem to have been cleaned at all (there also weren’t enough toilets), so it’s really no wonder the festival got shut down on the Sunday morning.
Even then, they announced the cancellation via Facebook, in a place where many people didn’t have signal. Reports of the cancellation spread via word of mouth, with no staff coming to tell people, and whilst Y NOT stated that they had cancelled the festival because of the weather, it has been alleged that they were shut down by the police, with their festival license having been withdrawn. The festival staff offered to let people stay overnight if they had pre-booked coaches and promised that food and water venues would stay open, but they did not. The car parks also seemed to have been placed on some very wet field, and the remaining festival staff did not seem to want to help people get out and did not put anything down to make getting out easier, with some people being stuck there for hours, with their cars badly damaged.
The music that we heard was fantastic, and we can’t criticise the bands. However, this year’s Y Not Festival was something of a disaster from front to finish, with new company Global Media having cut a lot of corners in order to save money. Here’s hoping people can get refunds, and that the organisers have learnt their lesson if the festival happens again, as it’s a shame to see such a beloved event be dragged through the (literal) mud so much.