Last year, 80,000 revellers poured into the basking sunshine of Manchester’s Heaton Park to experience Parklife Weekender’s evolution from Platts Field Park. Now in its fourth year, Manchester’s contribution to the festival scene has managed to successfully establish itself as a major calendar landmark with the head honchos of the festival world, and rightfully so.
Platts Field Park is largely responsible for Parklife’s current crowd, the festivals original location was situated in a very student dominated area and whilst the move took the festival north of the city centre, as long as the price remains this low and the after parties carry on, they’re a fairly loyal audience.
Parklife’s draw for me is threefold, from its underdog roots – having grown from the student organised Mad Ferret Festival – the freshness that comes from being a relatively new festival to the incredible line up. The festival is still continuing to draw in a new crowd, it’s not quite at the stage of having its regular die-hards so there’s nobody there that’s set in their ways and thinks they’re somehow more eligible than you to be there; here you’re all in the same boat.
Whilst the non-camping element of the festival may normally lead to people keeping themselves to themselves with a get-in get-out attitude, the festivals after parties ensure that you still feel connected to everyone else there and also give the festival a sense of freedom; you can tailor the festival to exactly what you want it to be. The festivals rough edges attracted me too; it’s only going to get bigger and I want to be included in the crowd that was there during its uprise, as oppose to when it’s routine is set in stone.
When you combine the dominantly student audience with the mix of electronic, dance, hip-hop, pop and indie music the result is an ecstatic energy; it’s contagious. Now I know festivals in general are known for the feel-good buzz but with Parklife’s early calendar sitting and unified young audience you can’t beat the overriding feeling of letting loose and unwinding from the mundane and with the after parties booked in advance, even when all the live music ends the party continues. This festival never rests.
Now to talk a bit about the music; hats off to Parklife they’ve managed to secure some of the biggest names on the electronic and indie scene at the minute.
Saturday’s line up can’t escape a mention of the hip-hop extraordinaire: Snoop Dogg. Even if you don’t like his music, the man’s magnetic and seems to ooze cool from every plaited bunchie and chain he wears. I’ll be disappointed if ‘Drop it Like it’s Hot’ doesn’t make an appearance, but nonetheless I think we’re in safe hands for a pretty epic performance.
Warming up the crowd before Snoop is Rudimental; they’re the perfect sound for Parklife. For me they just scream ‘summer’, whether it’s 2012’s anthem ‘Feel the Love’ or last year’s ‘Waiting All Night’, the entire album is sure to set the crowd into a wild frenzy with not a single foot still on the ground. Life is gonna be pretty sweet.
Following War Paint on Sunday’s Main Stage is Sam Smith and I’m wondering if an acoustic set of Disclosure’s ‘Latch’ is lined up whilst they’re busy over at the Disclosure Present Wildlife stage. Either way he’s another artist I’m very excited to see, I’m expecting him to kick off which his no.1 hit ‘Money On My Mind’ to maintain the crowd before drifting into his more emotive, chilled hits, readying the crowd for London Grammar.
I’m a big fan of London Grammar’s music and their live sound is incredible, but I’m curious to see how they’ll manage their festival presence. Lined up to follow Sam Smith I’m expecting to see more of a mellow crowd for their set but a powerful performance none the less; after all a crowd sat in collective silence listening to one voice can be just as impacted, if not more so than the crowd that’s on their feet jumping and dancing.
There’s more to Parklife than an albeit astounding line up; last year’s new venue brought with it some impressive new additions including bungee rides, a ferris wheel, dodgems and a log flume. That’s right, a log flume! Somehow I’m not sure bouncing around upside down full of beer is something I’ll be keen to do and I’ll be trying hard not to stand underneath it on the Sunday morning … but no doubt I’ll be joining the queue for the log flumes and dodgems more than once, and the ferris wheel is pretty spectacular at night time when you can see all across the lit up city.
The new venue also came with its fair share of problems. Commonly grunted in reports of last year was a lack of organisation in terms of getting people in and out of the city centre, with queues for buses sometimes lasting between 2-3 hours. Signposting also wasn’t up to scratch meaning many poor attendees were a bit lost for a while and ended up missing acts because of it, but these issues are easily resolved and shouldn’t take the festival long to iron out.
The line up for Parklife Weekender this year is absolutely second to none; the festival is easy on the eye, easy on the ears and easy on the wallet. To check out the full line up and bag yourself a ticket, click here.
Photo: Daniel Watson