Review: YO1 Festival 2014, Knavesmire, York

5 May 2014 @ 10.11 pm
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Review: YO1 Festival
Venue: Knavesmire, York, Sunday, May 4, 2014

The way I see it there are two ways to approach a festival as a reviewer. One is to make a detailed plan of which bands to catch then fail miserably to catch them all as bands run late and you find yourself running backwards and forwards, getting stressed.

OR you can pick three or four artists that you really want to see, hang around, catch them and rejoice at the amount of new bands you catch unexpectedly in between. I chose the latter.

The weather is perfect for a festival, overcast, meaning no chance of sunburn or muddy feet. A slight breeze only adds to the nice feel all around.

YO1 is a well organised and well set up little festival. There is something for all tastes, with different stages for different styles – from reggae and dance grooves on the likes of Irie Vibes Stage and Ministry Of Sound and onto indie and acoustic acts on Please Please You and The Bison Coffee Stage.

It’s not just the music either, world foods and all sorts of weird and wonderful beers are available to keep the adults and the kids happy.

‘Effortlessly brilliant’

First up on The Bison Coffee Stage is Mark Wynn, a self-confessed mumbler of song and spiel.

Now I have seen this fella before, but he was just strumming an acoustic guitar. Today Mark Wynn is a completely different beast. Using a guitar and drum backing track he has recorded himself, the whole set in one take.

He proceeds to perform his songs basically singing along to himself playing on tape. He moves between different mics.

Mark is more punk rock than many bands out there. By the third song he is stripped to the waste and flaunting himself out to the audience like some Iggy Pop/ Arctic Monkeys hybrid doing John Cooper Clarke, effortlessly brilliant. I need to see him again.

After catching a few tracks of Dead Bird, a guitar and drum duo sounding like a jangly, sweet version of the Posies I find myself taking the first of many wonders around the site.

Now YO1 is a surprisingly well organised and impressive festival. Very much like the Y Not Festival in Derbyshire, it has a very chilled and family friendly atmosphere.

There is no sign of any trouble as families mingle with groups of teenagers and girls in tiny shorts and vest tops, who will surely be very cold come this evening when the sun goes down.

‘Wild and wonderful’

Its size means it is easy to flit from stage to stage to catch whoever is on, watch a bit and move on. Take the BBC Radio York Introducing stage for example – I just chanced on and caught Game Theory, a ska based band featuring a tiny and cute singer with a great voice.

They are a proper festival band, getting the crowd jumping, as girls old and young with flowers in their hair jump as one in harmony.

A total contrast to …And The Hangnails who I had just witnessed on the Please Please You stage.

I have seen them many times. The guitar and drum duo are great if you like a bit of guitar driven, noisy rock. The likes of Nirvana and Dinosaur Pile Up always spring to mind, great stuff.

La Petite Mort are one of the highlights of the day for me. A trippy and psychedelic bunch of miscreants, all vintage gear and dreads, they look like they need a good wash to be honest.

They take me back to the late Eighties/ early Nineties with their indie, trippy vibes. Think My Bloody Valentine meets Black Rebel Motorcycle Club with great harmonies.

They attract a bunch of young hippy chicks down the front – fair play they deserve the attention. It’s all flying dreads and mysticism as singer/ guitarist ventures out in to the crowd on the final number, yet he does a massive fail as he returns to the stage and trips falling flat on his face with his prizes Rickenbacker.

The other, shoe-less guitar player joins him on the floor as they end their set in a wall of feedback, wild and wonderful.

‘Upbeat energetic set’

More food and wondering later sees at the Nightvision Stage for Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip for an awesome set of electro hip-hop.

I saw them at Glasto a few years ago and have seen Pip on his spoken word stuff. I know what to expect and they deliver to an excited crowd who sing the words back to the enigmatic pairing.

Pip, trademark beard, baseball cap and dressed all in black, Dan in Panda hat. From the opener, Beat That My Heart Skipped, on to the awesome Angles and onto set closer Letter To God it’s an upbeat energetic set.

The mix of heavy beats and Pip’s vocal style and clever lyrics maybe an acquired taste but it’s a good one, one of the highlights today.

It’s then a quick dash over to Bison to catch the last few songs of Boss Caine‘s set.

York’s favourite acoustic troubadour Daniel Lucas could well be the busiest musician around. The gravelly throated man and his band perform live in various guises depending who is available at the time I guess.

Tonight’s incarnation has …And The Hangnails’ guitarist picking away on his SG and a fiddle player.

There is also the addition of double bass tonight. The likes of Smoking In My Backyard are perfect, night time festival goodness, impossible not to love it.

‘Awesome stuff’

“I’m off to see De La Soul at the Knavesmire” is something I never thought I would hear myself saying, but here we are, back to Nightvision stage it is for the highly anticipated return of the original hip-hop crew.

Touring their classic album 3 Feet High And Rising. Not really my cup of tea but they were actually great fun.

The likes of Magic Number and Me Myself And I are soundtracks to many a clubbing night in my teenage years, they bring back great memories.

A great sound blasting out the bass and great lights go a long way to make it an enjoyable set. The bouncing crowd loved it. The band were slick and professional and did their legacy proud.

Returning to the Please Please You stage for the final band of the night Leeds rockers Pulled Apart By Horses. I don’t know any of their stuff, I couldn’t tell you any of their songs if my life depended on it but hell they were damn fine.

Energy filled rock from start to finish they created the only moshpit I witnessed today. Dry ice and great lighting create the atmosphere, the band create the noise.

Awesome stuff and a fitting, upbeat ending to a top day of music.

I had not been too sure what to expect today. I had heard conflicting reports from last year’s festival from friends.

I am glad to say YO1 gets a resounding thumbs up. On a par with the likes of YNot, YO1 is a small festival with a big heart.

Everything is catered for and with a large variety of acts to suit all tastes. There was no trouble, it was chilled and laid back, and full of atmosphere.

Here’s to the start of the festival season, I had a great time and look forward to doing it all again next year.