Having travelled hundreds of miles by plane, train and automobile over the past 7 years to go to music festivals across Europe, the idea of going to one on my doorstep gave me a wonderful sense of having nothing to lose.
The Parklife Weekender in Manchester seems to be growing in reputation and stature at an astonishing rate and as I found out this weekend quite often the very best things are right under our noses. The line-up was staggering!
Parklife takes place in the urban Platt Fields Park, located in the predominately student area of Manchester, Fallowfield, And sure enough as I arrived on the wonderfully un-Manchester-like sun kissed Saturday lunch time (Manchester’s notorious rain was saving itself for the Sunday), there was an air of exams being over and it being time for the city’s locals and adopted alike to let their hair down. The University of Manchester is one of the biggest in Europe and as I queued up I genuinely thought that all its students were coming to this particular end of year party!!
The prices for the festival are student friendly too. At just £60 for a weekend ticket it was no surprise that anyone who wasn’t queuing was on their mobile phones seeing if anyone knew of anyone, who might know of someone; who had a spare ticket!!
The bargain price comes in part down to the fact that this is a no camping festival. The 40,000 attendees over the course of the weekend came, saw, danced and then flurried off into the night to explore the rest of what this bouncing city has to offer. Let alone the hundreds of unofficial house parties taking place!
As well as the 6 arena tents and 1 main stage, the festival was alive through a whole array of quirky extras. Live and installation art, the truly tremendous Treehouse Stage that hosted silent discos, cocktail bars and a great chill out area, as well as a number of fascinating market stalls and busker’s stages.
This was a festival where you had to live by your decisions. So vast was and diverse was the range of acts, that in a way there was a sense that it didn’t really matter what you caught and what you missed, everyone was giving it a good go.
From the early and heavy Drum and Bass of the Hospitality and Ape X Metropolis tents in the form of Alix Perez, Tonn Piper and Mista Jam to really wake up the masses, to a sensational set from Detroit legend Moodyman, there was something for everyone throughout the afternoon. Beatbox supremo Beardyman drew the crowd to fever pitch with some incredible original mixes on the mainstage, whilst, Hip hop icon DOOM was one of the most talked about acts of the festival as he brought his sound to a packed Now Wave tent.
I like many others finished the day at the main stage for the final three acts. Katy B’s charming dubstep, the ever popular Kelis’s Milkshake and latterly Two Door Cinema clubs sing-a-long fun, wrapped up a great day.
Sunday brought with it Manchester’s rain. This was the sort of rain that had set in. There was no sense in hoping for better as the day went on. It was simply a case of freshening up, gearing up and setting yourself for an equally enjoyable, if slightly more challenging, Day 2.
It added to the addictive sense of freedom already surrounding the festival. As one lad in shorts and flips said to me as we queued in the torrential rain to get in “we may as well take the handbrake off now!!”
Spirits remained high. People here are used to the rain and it certainly wasn’t going to make them enjoy Sunday’s equally brilliant line-up any less. The tents got busier, the bass got louder and everyone got on with enjoying themselves!
Choosing your headliner at Parklife last Sunday was always going to be a gut wrenching decision. To miss DJ Shadows sensational audio and visual act, and 2manydjs faultless mixes was a decision I had to make as I moved in the rain with the crowd to a truly incredible set from Chase & Status which everyone who was there will remember for many years to come.
I’ll admit I did duck out early though. I owed it to myself to see one of the DJ’s of all time, namely Grandmaster Flash who’s classic mix of New York Hip Hop and RnB reminded me at the end of a remarkable weekend why he remains a legend of the turntables.
This was Manchester doing what it does best, in the weather it knows so well!!