Image: RICHARD JOHNSON / FANATIC
Like most others, I have to admit I was slightly disheartened to look out of the window on Saturday morning and see it absolutely pelting down with rain. But, grabbing my wellies, I hoped for the best and told myself to get over it – and Parklife delivered.
As always, the day felt like a celebration of Manchester in many ways – the atmosphere and the crowd all oozed the charm you only really find in Manchester and the day was made all that better for it.
Arriving at the festival mid-afternoon, it looked as though most of the revellers had already arrived – it was packed, but in a good way. After a brief walk round the site, we kicked things off by heading over to the The Hangar, a huge tent near the centre of the festival, trudging through mud as we went.
Edging closer, we could hear the thumping baseline of Fisher’s tech-house stomper 'Losing It'. Pushing our way into the packed tent, the final moments of the Australian producer’s set was a sight to behold, with the crowd lapping up every beat and even the odd inflatable fish flying across the room.
The Palm House, a giant greenhouse-like space with numerous disco balls hanging and shining from above, was where we spent the next few hours. It was the place to be for house and disco lovers as a tireless set by Honey Dijon delighted the thousand-strong crowd with upbeat funk and disco classics, followed by Peggy Gou. As always, The South Korean artist delivered a high-quality set, filled with broken beats and pulsing basslines, as well as some crowd-pleasing house classics such as Shakedown’s 'At Night'.
We finish the day back at The Hanger for Eric Prydz. Playing to a large crowd of sweaty, squished dance music appreciators, Prydz kept us moving and captivated with his beats. Everything about the set was skillfully set to complement the music, from the special effects to the out of this world light show which hypnotised as it went.
After resting and recuperating from the previous day’s antics, Sunday started in the all new The VIP area, termed ‘Highline VIP’. Over the course of the weekend the area played host to numerous DJ’s by way of two stages – Beach Club and House Party – as well as featuring a rooftop bar, downtown streetfood and luxury toilets. While the area rarely “went off” in terms of its musical offering, it was a great addition to grab a drink away from the queues and rest up while deciding which stage to head to next.
Over at the crate-stacked industrial-looking Temple, there’s a totally different atmosphere as Manchester promoters Kaluki welcome a succession of hard-hitting techno talent, including Skream, Joseph Capriati and a closing set from Jamie Jones b2b Marco Carola.
Meanwhile, over at the G Stage – The Bunker, Artwork attracted a large crowd, opting for feel-good disco classics, while Yorkshire man Mella Dee closed the day.
Offering some of the most eclectic and diverse artists of electronic music and hip-hop was the Sounds of the Near Future tent. Mura Masa delivered a typically energetic set, while headline act Solange drew one of the largest crowds of the day. The singer’s Sunday night performance was chilling: her band was crisp and her dancers were magnetic. While there were a couple of sound issues towards the beginning of her set, Solange undeniably lived up to the hype that so often surrounds her.
With Parklife, it’s rare to come across a mainstream festival this endearing – an event so well-organised that it’ll make any music-head scream with joy. Each year, they never fail to disappoint with the line-up, and even with a cancelled headline act there aren’t many festivals that come close to matching the calibre of artists on offer.
Parklife is a perfect example of why so many of us sing the musical praises of Manchester, and why we will continue to do so for quite some time.