Y Not Festival 2019: Mud, Rain and Incredible Music

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Y Not Festival, nestled in the beautiful Peak District, has acquired a bit of a reputation in recent years for its somewhat unreliable weather. In both incredible artists and torrential downpours, it did not disappoint. Though the abundance of mud sent revellers home in droves by Sunday morning, it failed to dampen spirits at the start of the weekend – with a perfect mix of big names and hidden gems, there was no shortage of talent at Y Not, providing something for everyone in the oddly diverse crowd. From families to teenagers celebrating the end of GCSEs (the amount of ‘Youth’ wristbands made me, a 19-year-old, feel middle-aged) and everyone in between, Y Not had lots up their sleeve: aside from control over the weather, of course.

Friday saw an early set from the wonderful Easy Life, arguably the name on everyone’s lips over the last few months: with literal lemons flying across the crowd, it seemed everyone present knew every single word to the band’s carefree anthems. With some lovely trumpet solos and an incredibly determined frontman who continually leapt off stage to embrace his fans, Easy Life made quite the impression with songs such as ‘Sunday’ and newest release, ‘Earth’.

Later that night, The Quarry stage found itself the backdrop for Kate Nash’s immensely empowering set: for someone with quite a long history behind her, Nash’s set was one of the most refreshing. She flits between dedicating ‘Dickhead’ to Boris Johnson, in a particularly amusing moment, to assuring her largely female crowd that they have the strength to go through anything and do whatever they want to. Striking an immensely uplifting figure, it is one of the most important sets of the weekend for many of the people in that tent. Of course, ‘Foundations’ goes down a storm with the invigorated crowd, leaving many of them ready to dance away their Friday night even harder.

A lot of the best sets of the weekend came from some lesser known bands, solidifying themselves as mainstays on festival lineups to come. Red Rum Club were a standout – the crowd were wrapped around their finger as they danced their way through an electrifying set. Back on the same stage the next day, The Ks also delivered a set that showcased their passion and talent; proving that the end is not nigh for indie rock and roll. The smaller tents at festivals like Y Not often play host to some of the best moments of the festival – though the tents are smaller, the band’s performances are in no way diminished, instead becoming larger than life.

Indisputably the highlight of the weekend for many (aside from the BEAUTIFUL Yorkshire Puddings on offer) was IDLES set on main stage. Enraged and chaotic, the band were a vision in plastic ponchos, delivering a ferocious 45 minute set to a crowd who throw themselves about, free from inhibition in this cathartic experience. Their politically charged music manages to cover just about every social issue you could think of: from Brexit, to loving yourself, to immigrants, to feminism, with frontman Joe Talbot epitomising the band’s attitudes with a rallying cry to “get some more women in that pit or fuck off”. There’s something mildly therapeutic about thrashing around in the rain to IDLES’ strident, ambitious set – it’s a quality that cements it as one of the best sets of the weekend, undoubtedly.

The main stage headliners for Saturday night need no introducing – Two Door Cinema Club exhilarated a crowd that had just started to sober up and begin to notice just exactly how sodden they were, commandeering them to jump along to their indie classics and forget the fact they’re covered in mud. Racing through a whirlwind set of both old and new, the Northern Irish sweethearts show that they still have the capacity to dominate the genre once more.

To draw the Saturday night of Y Not to a close, The Streets’ very own Mike Skinner took to the stage in the Giant Squid to deliver potentially the best DJ set of the weekend – the entire tent was electric, enthused by the set which only seemed to get better as classic after classic, drop after drop were unleashed on the ecstatic crowd. It seems fitting that before the bad weather drove the crowds away, the final set we saw had everyone grooving – ending the sadly cut-short weekend on an intense high. There is no doubt that performances from Wolf Alice, Foals and Ady Suleiman amongst others will have provided a rousing final night. But for us, it is Mike Skinner’s impeccable skills that left their lasting mark on us as we leave the freezing conditions of the Peak District behind for the year. If you think you can hack the inevitable rain and mud yourself, why not visit Y Not next year?

Header Image from Festival’s Facebook