by Ben Farmer
In part 2 of Ben Farmer’s epic Y Not festival journal, he name checks a slew of Derby’s finest live acts, wonders why Palma Violets exist and has an epiphany during Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls.
Now begins the winter of my discontent.
My favourite Derby band is Scribble Victory. I love those boys. They’re awesome people and they make brilliant music. Due to a printing error on the programme, however, we end up missing them. I’m proper annoyed because I love sharing new music, and I have been ranting to Harry, Shane, Grace, Alan, Kelly and James about them ever since I left the Hog and Barrel stage on Friday. So, dear reader, you are just going to have to trust me that Scribble Victory are worth checking out and seeing live. I have absolutely no doubt that they wowed the audience. Next week I’ll see photos on Facebook of their crowd, which is deservedly large.
With a slight sense of loss, we all head to the beer tent to have a few and wait for the next band on the agenda, Black Moth. Harry and I share a love of female fronted rock and metal bands, so we go, leaving Shane and Kelly on a bale of hay.
Perhaps, this time, it’s my fault. Maybe I’ve let my disappointment at missing Scribble Victory colour my mood, but I just don’t feel Black Moth. Their songs are well-formed, their stage presence, although a little nervy, is still strong, and the audience clearly love them. But something in me needs to sit on hay bales, have an ale, and mope for a bit, so that’s what I do. I leave Harry at the crash barrier. I’m not sat down for long, however, as I re-join him in the Giant Squid tent for a band I’ve been hearing rumours about for a while: Baby Godzilla.
Now ends the winter of my discontent.
I only know their one single, Powerboat Disaster, and I’ve never seen them live before. But their opening salvo hits, and immediately, I know that I can either get out of the moshpit, or die in the middle of it.
These guys are nuts. Genuinely crazy. Not just because of their music – which, due to their stage antics, can’t be more than 5 long, extended feedback jam sessions – but the things these four mental gentlemen do for the sake of putting on a show would make even Freddie Mercury himself seem tame. There’s bloody-nosed crowdsurfing, there’s speaker cabinets in the middle of moshpits, there’s PA climbing and, in an impressive feat of hardcore notgivearatsassedness, the drumkit is re-situated in the centre of the moshpit and played there.
There’s no time to try to pick out individual songs, because Baby Godzilla are taking this stage down with at least as much fury and destruction as their full grown namesake. The end comes with a particularly wonderful gimmick: the lead singer / guitarist leaves the crowd, and uses the tent’s moorings to climb the canvas roof and close the final song from there. We all rush outside. With his beard and long hair, looks a little like a punk rock Jesus. There’s a feeling in the crowd; some of Baby Godzilla’s fans think the demented frontman may be ascending to hardcore sainthood in front of us.
About five members of staff follow the band through their set, trying to fix what they’ve destroyed. They must all feel like Sisyphus.
After their set, Scribble Victory’s drummer/vocalist Tomas rushes up to me and shouts “That was fucking sick.”
Couldn’t have put it better myself.
Harry and I head back to the others to explain that they’ve missed what may not have been the best musical set, but easily the best stage performance of the whole weekend. They look unconvinced, and I try to describe it, but it just doesn’t translate into words. We head to the main stage.
The Sunshine Underground are on. We catch the last 20 minutes. They’re not really for me, but I can at least see why Harry likes them. They’re inoffensive enough.
Then we get right to the front of the crowd to see Palma Violets.
I’m going to have to exercise my not-saying-anything-bad rule again, so here’s the positives about Palma Violets: the bassist entertains me. He’s dressed well, and does this entertaining falling-backwards dance with a cocaine cockiness that makes me laugh. The drummer is a great musician. He knows how to use his kit, pounding out strong beats that at least give these songs a good base. However, Palma Violets don’t make a fan of me. The keyboard player sits bemusedly and looks like he’s waiting for a bus. The frontman does do a job keeping the crowd entertained, but I don’t hear any songs that impress me. I settle for watching the bassist, who remains entertaining to watch throughout the set, and pretend I’m watching a very early Manic Street Preachers set.
I know that Palma Violets have a lot of fans who respond well to them. The crowd love them more than I ever will. However, Shane sums up their performance perfectly; “They’re a radio band,” he says. “I wouldn’t switch them off if they came on, but I wouldn’t buy their album.”
We’re a bit deflated by the end of Palma Violets’ set, so we head back to the tent for more fuel, missing De La Soul, before going back to the arena to see Frank Turner and the Sleeping Souls.
We get a pretty good spot, and the audience is buzzing the same way it did before for Dizzee Rascal. Once again, I’ve not researched Frank the way I promised myself I would. The lights go up, and here it comes.
It’s perfect. It really is the way I wanted this festival to end. Although Frank’s set does have its problems – the crowd vocally shares my view that the band’s too quiet – the songs take over. Frank’s an amazing songwriter, and I know that I’m going to be researching him over the next few weeks. Glory Hallelujah takes a place in my mind, even though I’m not an atheist, because of its irresistible singalong chorus, and Wessex Boy converts even the adamant South-hating Midlander. Plain Sailing Weather could very well be my favourite new song, and even challenges Dave McPherson’s work in terms of song craft.
Everyone’s having a great time, and when the pyros kick in, it’s a wonderful crescendo. It’s over too soon. We call Frank back for an encore, but for some reason, we’re in the minority, and we don’t get one. Ah, well. I guess the best way to keep the public interested is to keep them wanting more.
And just like that, it was over.
There was the un-pitching of the tent, there was the hangover, there were traffic queues. Two hours after loading the car, we were let out onto the road. I drop Will and Dan at Derby train station, and go home to a warm bath and a year’s wait before the next one (the next Y Not, I mean. Not the next bath). I drop down on my couch, and feel like Sam at the end of Lord of the Rings; “Well, I’m back.”
I think the best way to judge a festival isn’t necessarily how many of your favourite bands you saw, or even how many new bands you discovered, but by how the festival made you feel, how many new friends you make. And, by that logic, I can sum up this review with three simple words:
Best. Festival. Ever.
Thanks Y Not! Thanks Paul and Steven of The Herron Brothers / The Sons for putting me on! Thanks all members of the Richard Johnson Appreciation Society for appreciating Richard Johnson! Thanks to Dave McPherson, Reel Big Fish, Bare Knuckle Parade, Beans on Toast, Dizzee Rascal, Scribble Victory, Baby Godzilla, and Frank Turner & the Sleeping Souls for their amazing sets! And thanks to everyone I met, bumped into, gave a Free Hug to, or threw up on for being awesome!
See you in 2015 for the 10 year anniversary!
Ben Farmer – www.ben-farmer.co.uk