Y Not Festival 2023 – Saturday Review

Y Not Festival is one of my favourite British festivals, although it’s been a few years since we’ve attended. In 2023, we returned to see just how the Derbyshire festival had progressed since last time. Unfortunately, we were only able to attend on the Saturday, but we still managed to see some fantastic acts in our time on site!

By Jane Howkins

We’ve had some issues with parking and getting on site in a timely manner with other festivals this year, but we had no problem driving straight into the car park. Everything seemed well organised and they’d taken clear precautions against the poor British weather – very different from a few years ago when the festival was rained off. We were surprised to see such a huge police presence on site too, as all punters had to walk in front of a sniffer dog to gain access to the site.

We also noticed that the festival site had been rearranged, expanding it further across the grassy space. This meant that it never felt too crowded at any one time, despite being practically sold out, which is something else worth shouting about. There were lots of food venues, toilets, shops and other facilities on site, and we were also pleased to see a large funfair, an activities area (including reasonably priced axe throwing and mini golf) and a dedicated children’s area. There’s also several DJ tents open throughout the day, a cinema and a comedy stage, ensuring you’ll never be bored. Other festivals, take note!

Now onto the music – first up were The Lancashire Hotpots, a band I’ve seen before at this very same festival. We managed to get right to the front for their set, packed full of hilariously catchy songs about chips, bin men and drinking. The band never take themselves too seriously, and there really is something for everyone within their stable of songs. The massive conga line towards the end was extremely engaging, with this reporter also joining in!

Red Rum Club were up next – they’re a band I’ve heard many good things about, although I’ve never actually heard their music before! However, it’s catchy enough to enjoy even if you’re not a fan, and the crowd sure seemed to love them. The vocalist and trumpeter were the main focal points here, showing great talent. The rest of the band were a little stoic in the background, although their talent made it clear why people love this band so much.

One of my favourite things about Y Not is Club Malibu. It’s essentially a DJ tent, playing a vast array of songs from all genres, changing the mood every few hours. We decided to stop in here next to catch the end of the film soundtrack section. Next, it was time for Rock Out Ft Jeff Leopard, which started out playing some classic rock bangers, before adding the new school in. I could stay in that tent all day, but unfortunately, we had other acts to see.

We had never heard of The Last Dinner Party before, but decided to take a chance on the unknown, and we’re very pleased that we did! They’re a girl group incorporating elements of pop, electronica, rock, indie and grunge into their music, making for a very unique sound. The lead vocalist has a stunning voice which is very reminiscent of pop starlet Marina. A couple of technical hitches occurred, but the band carried on as normal anyway, taking command of the stage in every way. I’m really looking forward to seeing them again sometime.

Beans On Toast is a firm Y Not favourite, having appeared there countless times. In classic Beans style, he sauntered onto the stage casually, before starting into his politically-charged nu-folk anthems. Surprisingly, he also had an extremely talented pianist on stage with him, marking a nice change from his usual style of one man and his guitar. The crowd absolutely lapped it up, and the way Beans was beaming throughout showed how much playing at the festival meant to him.

One of the best things about Y Not is that it’s a festival that takes chances on smaller bands, having several small stages for underground acts. Addictive Philosophy are one such band – I’ve actually been aware of them for several years, but I’ve never had the chance to see them live. They play a mixture of political punk styles, from ska to hardcore to classic punk, all the way through to thrash. It was a raw performance, but one that suited the genre of music well – also particularly impressive considering one member was performing with a broken arm!

Last, but certainly not least, were The Lathums. They’re another band that I’ve heard great things about, and I was absolutely blown out of the water. They’re an indie band, but they’re a lot better than most of the boring indie acts out there at the moment, having a real sense of melody with the way they play. The set was full of energy, and they’ve definitely made a new fan in me!

It’s a shame we couldn’t stay longer, but I’m hoping we get the opportunity to review the entire festival next time around, so make sure you stay tuned! If you’ve never been to Y Not before, it comes highly recommend, suitable for all ages.