Following an awfully uncomfortable night’s sleep on one of the kitchen floors in Fallowfield halls, I was more than a little disappointed when I drew the curtains to a torrential downpour on Saturday morning. However, in true festival fashion, we reached for our jackets and hats, downed our G&Ts, and hailed a cab up to Heaton Park.
After being redirected around the perimeter for an eternity, we found ourselves subjected to a personal sniffer dog inspection; when the dawg sits, a strip-search ensues. One unlucky member of our crew was hastily hustled away, eyes wide with fear, only to skip out the other side after five minutes, smile stretched across his face. I decided not to ask…
The monsoon meant we had to trudge through ankle deep mud for what seemed like forever to get anywhere. We marched through the mud, laughing at those unlucky enough to slip over and add a new level of messiness to their already mangled states. After flipping through the guidebook we ended up settling in the Ape & Metropolis presents Digital Soundboy stage to a dirty Breakage & Dismantle set, dropping them muaddd grime mixes all over the shop.
The mud here had its first and only positive influence, in preventing the hordes of triple white huarache shufflers from infiltrating the tent, and marginally disrupting otherwise happy skankers.
Now well and truly on our way up, we slid over to the hidden Collonade stage, complete with an ancient Greek-style architecture backdrop, to catch Route 94’s iconic and euphoric set, with the entire crowd singing My Love at the top of their voices (queue feelings of nostalgic adrenaline).
Overall I was impressed with the improvements made to the stages from last year. Parklife stepped its game up this year to host more than 200 artists in front of an overall crowd of nearly 160,000 people, and it has to be said besides the entry backlog at the beginning, they handled it extremely well. Still gutting that they don’t include camping though, £50 cab home at night is a painfully expensive trek.
Day two came around with an altogether more chilled vibe. We spent more time walking round and checking out the food stalls and fairground now the swamps had been covered with wood chippings, making getting around unbelievably easier. The festival had some really cool food stalls which I hadn’t seen elsewhere. We munched on some peng chorizo mix from a Paellaria to get a base in place for the evening.
Kerri Chandler began to really lift the energy levels of the crowd in the early evening on the most cool looking, futuristic stage, Wildlife. His set really got me buzzing, making me remember how he unified all crowd stereotypes at Horizon, and I began to love everyone from the wildly gurning underground junkies to the bucket hat & Gucci bag kids.
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One of the top things about Parklife was the sheer amount of people I knew who I kept bumping into. By midday we had the whole crew rolling around, but I crept off with one member to check out Public Enemy, one of the main attractions of the festival for me. They were insane, dropping classic after classic unlike Snoop with his Katy Perry shit the night before. The stage was rammed, and security even began allowing their duties to video the most energetic performance of the festival. The acoustics were somewhat disappointing; they just couldn’t carry far enough for the capacity of the crowd, I think the turnout was underestimated on this occasion. After weaving my way half way through the crowd however, my evening was made when Flavor Flav enthusiastically threw his finger up at me, so lucky!
Despite the level of talent that flooded the festival, the real climax of the weekend was undoubtedly Disclosure’s closing live set. The futuristic appeal of the stage was intensified by flames and green strobe lights, with at least three times the amount of people skanking out to Help Me Lose My Mind as were at the Foals finale on the main stage, which looked more like cleaning up day after Carnival than the main stage headline spot of a sold out festival. Better luck next time Indie kids. Standing on the ridge of a hill beside the huge pink bubble Parklife sign, we had the perfect view of the entire crowd, the bizarre lizard and bird sculptures, and the stage itself, offering a utopian ending to a really spectacular festival.
We ended up at a pretty sick UoM after party, with about 200 people spilling out onto the first floor roof of the apartments, via the window of a 2 bedroom flat. The rain was pouring again but with the endless stream of partiers passing below on the Wilmslow Road to keep us entertained, we managed to keep it going with gin and juice until spoons opened for breakfast.
All in all we managed to have an awesome time, bumping into so many old faces that the festival turned out to be a mass reunion with top quality music from multiple genres. Even the weather couldn’t really dampen the festival spirit as the whole team combatted it by puttin in wurk and cutting endless amounts of shapes. Definitely one to watch out for next year, though I’ll be surprised if they can top 2014’s line-up! Viva 2015 in Heaton Park, and allow the festival blues. Big up the Parklife team, this one can only get bigger.
If you’re after any more info on next year’s event, check out their website.
All credit to the Parklife photography crew.