Parklife Festival Day 1 Review
Saturday 8th June
Heaton Park, Manchester
Croatia seems to be the setting of choice for most British run electronic music festivals this year: Outlook, Hideout, Unknown – the list goes on. So for those who can’t necessarily afford the flights or extra effort of partying abroad, it’s nice to know there are still some high profile festivals on the right side of the channel. Parklife falls into this category. I was impressed by how picturesque the venue was – Manchester’s Heaton Park – and the weather followed suit: it was a weekend of near perfect summer, meaning that having a few drinks in the park before entering the festival was a nice experience in itself.
Everyone at the festival was in good spirits and happy to be there. As well as the music, there were tons of fairground and theme park attractions (dodgems etc.), which added to the fun atmosphere. Queues to enter the festival seemed to be well managed, with not much of a waiting time to get into the fray. Which after last year’s entry into Global Gathering, I appreciated a lot.
The lineup was pretty special too, making one of the only real “problems” having to choose between acts that happened to clash.
My first stop was the Metropolis Tent, where I managed to catch the end of Goldie’s trademark gritty set, showing once again why the Metalheadz boss is still so relevant in the rapidly changing Drum and Bass scene. DJ Hype followed on strong with his trademark jump-up style, which he mixed up with a bit of festival vibes. That’s not to say however that he detracted from his roots; a lot of the more festival friendly tunes he played came packaged with a Hype twist, my favourite being his last mix of the set: He started off with the TC bootleg of Daft Punk’s Get Lucky before a perfect switch up into Mr Happy – another reminder why he’s been one of the genre’s seminal DJ’s throughout the decades. My only gripe would be the soundsystem in the tent. It did the job, but when you’re seeing some of the best DJ’s in bass heavy music, you want to be able to feel it!
I managed to catch some of Fourtet’s live set over at the WHP and Now Wave tent. A refreshing change from the high velocity beats of Metropolis. They had filled the bigger tent with loads of over-sized balloons, which bounced high above the crowd, creating a really weird but wonderful atmosphere to complement Fourtet’s deeper sounds.
The Hospitality tent had a strong performance as always, but that’s what I’ve come to expect from the global Drum and Bass brand, which - thanks to the huge amount of nights they host each year – know how to run a party. The trademark huge hospitality “H” behind the stage marked their territory, and the people flocked to it, with the tent being pretty packed throughout the day. London Elektricity brought out his extensive vinyl collection, which, combined with his extensive time as a top-level DJ, came together (as usual) to make a great festival set. His enthusiastic and likeable personality is always obvious from the crowd and adds an extra personal element to his performances, which is one of the reasons I always enjoy Hospital Records events.
I did manage to see parts of the main headliners as well: Rudimental and Plan B played all their hits for some chart relief to a warm reception of festival-goers, however for me, the best atmospheres were in the individual tents away from the main stage. Everywhere seemed to be a “hands in the air” affair, with the likes of Mistajam and Friction (with the help of MC Linguistics) working the people into frenzies. Friction took to the stage with a relentless 4 deck set, with some rapid mixing and huge tracks. I particularly enjoyed his double drop of the drum and bass remix of Doctor P’s Sweet Shop with the now-classic tune Marka, but he also threw in some trap for good measure and got the people bouncing. The head honcho at Shogun Audio was on fire with his raw skill on the decks being very evident all the way through.
Apart from the odd hiccup, Parklife 2013 proved itself to me to be a festival to compete with the likes of Global Gathering and other similar weekenders, of course it would be nicer to be on some European beach, but when the weather was as good as it was, coupled with the amazing artists on offer, who needs Croatia?
Review by Arthur Seaward
Images courtesy of Parklife Festival and Hospitality