Manchester Parklife, festival number four. In its three years it’s grown up and moved house from the cosy Platt Fields Park to the monumental Heaton Park and the student spirit has been replaced by a huge field flooded with 60,000 people.
The weather was good, the drinks were flowing, well they would have been if the queue for the bar wasn’t so horrendous. It may have only been four or five deep but it stretched for so long it took the best part of half an hour to get served. This most likely was in part to do with how ludicrously over-loaded the park was in the latter stages of the day.
Musically, well all eight (yes eight) stages were awash with capital talent throughout the weekend. From the likes of supreme songstress Jessie Ware to legend-status producers like Benga and Four Tet, to indie wonders The Maccabees.
It would have been quite hard to find someone who had no interest in the line-up. Unless you like Metal, in which case, Sorry. Benga tore through the filled to the hilt ‘Ape Parklife Beatdown’ stage like it was nothing. I was perched on the very outside like the weird kid who wasn’t invited to the house party but wanted to be a part of it anyway. If you’ve ever wanted to catch one of Dubstep’s ‘Forefather’s’ but just never got round to it. Now is the time to change that.
But if skull rattling bass isn’t how you like to spend your time well then Aluna George may have just been the perfect Saturday remedy as ‘the next big thing’ duo delivered a feel-good set featuring huge singles ‘Attracting Flies’ and Disclosure smash ‘White Noise’ with a reassurance like they were veterans of the festival tent circuit. With debut album ‘Body Music’ due for release next month, more good fortune is surely coming their way.
Hot Natured are somewhat of a super-group consisting of household names; Jamie Jones, Lee Foss, Luca C & Ali Love. And while they may have been the second only dance group to sell out the Brixton Academy on their debut (The other being Leftfield) their performance certainly had flare. But it lacked the polished finish which can only come with time. Guest vocalist Anabel Englund came out wearing next to nothing also, which was nice. Google her if you know not what I mean. She also features in the ‘Reverse Sky Diving’ video.
If you were hoping to catch world-conquering Disclosure you’d have probably had to arrive at the Now Wave tent around Wednesday afternoon. But rest assured there was none of that ‘miming’ nonsense that plagued their Capital Summertime Ball set.
With so many huge dance acts packing out the tents often drawing larger crowds than the main stage this did once again create line-up confusions and its a recurring theme at this festival.
However these mishaps had benefits, as I arrived in the Hudson Mohawke curated tent to see the Glaswegian producer himself fifteen minutes or so before-hand the tent was going nuts to Danny Brown who if you follow the stage times had no interest being in that tent at all.
A welcome surprise. When Hud Mo donned the stage at 6pm he did what he has become somewhat synonymous for lately and dropped two new Kanye tracks seemingly from his forthcoming ‘Yeezus’ album, with one sounding very ‘808s’ with gritted teeth and another sounding like it was sent in from space.
As the festival neared its expiration Jurassic 5 commanded the main stage with a sense of fun that very few acts ever manage to achieve and their hip-hop classic ‘Concrete Schoolyard’ was perhaps the festivals biggest feel-good moment. Example had the responsibility to close the festival, presumably because of his mix between dance and pop was deemed perfect to see things out and that seems to have been a fairly good call.
Heaton Park was indefinitely a huge step up for Parklife this year and with it came transport issues and other things that will no doubt be solved over time but with that it also lost its charming atmosphere that Platt Fields Park gave it. It remains to be seen whether the festival will move back their next summer if Heaton park has other large profile events on.