Y Not Festival’s journey from small festival liner note to big-name-attracting musical calendar highlight has taken just a couple of years. Yet, with this year’s event, it was clear to all who attended that the festival’s organisers weren’t prepared to deal the festival’s capacity (almost) doubling.
I have been to the festival for the last 6 years, from the days when jobbing indie bands The View and We Are Scientists were the headline acts. At the time, Y Not’s smaller scale was actually a nice change to the larger festivals. Indeed, it might be that Y Not finds itself a home at that scale, because this year the festival got far too big for its wellington boots.
#1 The Great Communication Breakdown
‘Try not to bring any valuables – they don’t tend to fare well after 3 days in a field! Don’t bring anything that you can’t afford to lose!”
This is what Y Not put in their safety information section of their website. Yet the festival organisers thought the most acceptable way of communicating with the thousands of campers was via social media, despite the site’s signal problems and the fact that many people left their smart phones at home.
On Saturday, to apparently avoid having to cancel their second headliner, Y Not brought all the acts on the main stage forward an hour. However the only way they announced this on site was by occasionally flashing the new set times on the screens at the main stage. So, when my friends and I rocked up to the main stage at 5:30pm to see Australian band DMA’s, we were shocked to see them walking off stage just as we arrived. We, like many other campers, had not been to see any bands on the main stage that day, so were unaware of the changes, and as a result missed a band that was one of the reasons we bought a ticket.
What was most shocking this weekend was that we only found out the festival was cancelled by someone camping near by, who had only been given this information by someone running a burger van. (Editor’s note: Apologies, but that made me laugh…)
At no point did a member of staff come into our section of the site and tell us that our festival was over.
#2 Y Not’s Great Vanishing Act Trick
At festivals you can usually expect some bands to cancel, but the amount that did at this year’s Y Not was shocking.
The weather can be partially to blame, but this is an English festival, people are going expect the weather to be crap. The poor organisation meant that headliners The Vaccines, a favourite of mine, were told they were not allowed to play due to the stage flooding. Clean Bandit were then asked to perform a un-anticipated DJ set.
Due to changing the times of the main stage on Saturday, Y Not’s ‘Festival Planner’ became useless, as the bands people had plotted to see were now performing simultaneously on different stages.
Lethal Bizzle was supposed to finish forty-five minutes before Stereophonics, but the late un-communicated time change meant that they both took to the stage at the same time. This left fans of both acts with a few minutes to make a decision they didn’t think they’d have to make.
#3 Where Were Your Staff, Y Not?
We arrived at the site in the early part of Friday afternoon and even at that point the lack of security on entry was surprising due to the recent heightened security at music events.
We entered and re-entered the campsite three times, and not once were we checked, due to there being only a couple of staff members on the gate.
The lack of security has been noted elsewhere, but it became outrageously obvious as we watched three separate traders approach us offering Ket.
#4 Y NO Car Park Planning?
After finally realising that the festival was over on Sunday, crowds of people headed for the exit and into their cars to leave the site.
Just like every other Y Not victim, I just wanted to get home and end this disaster of a weekend. But, once again, due to lack of festival planning, it took us three hours just to leave the festival site.
And before you ask, it wasn’t just that the car park was now a mud bath, but all the cars were being sent down the same bloody road.
#5 The Sour Taste of Being Let Down
Were there any positives to be found at Y Not? As it turns out, yes, one.
Stereophonics (one of the two bands I ended up seeing this weekend) smashed their set with crowd favourites and while watching them everyone forgot the mud and the rain and just enjoyed the music.
Nevertheless, I went to my 6th Y Not Festival hoping it would be as much fun as the last, I came home feeling pretty positive that I can now search for a new festival to attend next summer.