This weekend Parklife weekender welcomed 70,000 revellers to Manchester’s Heaton Park for a musical extravaganza the likes of which Manchester has never seen before.
The move from Fallowfield’s Platt Fields to the new site at Heaton Park has seen the festival grow to almost bursting point, so much so, that considering they’ve moved to more spacious surroundings there’s an argument that with this year’s festival they’ve already outgrown their new digs.
Having woken up on Saturday morning to heavy rain and grey skies, Heaton Park was put through its paces from the get-go. There was mud, and lots of it, but despite the brown stuff it didn’t seem to dampen the spirits of anyone.
As we approached the entrance we were greeted with a queue to the get into the festival grounds. After a wait of around half hour we were in. But that can’t be said of everyone. It would seem that Parklife struggled with some of its ticket scanners on the first day, with a large amount of ticket holders forced to queue up again at an inadequate box office to get replacement tickets or prove that their tickets were indeed genuine. We heard accounts of some ticket holders queuing up to five hours, in the rain, to get replacement tickets.
The situation was compounded even further by the tiny porter cabin housing the box office which clearly wasn’t sufficient enough to handle the teething problems, which were probably caused by wet scanners and even wetter tickets.
Personally speaking we were in within half and hour and all of our tickets scanned the first time without hassle. Fighting the rain and mud we ventured around the site to get our bearings and find the closest bar. Once we were settled we took in an early performance from Kieza who played her number one single ‘Hideaway‘ to rapturous applause, and energetic dancing.
Once she had finished we move onto the Hospitality tent for a Andy C’s set. The tent was packed but slightly disappointing was the sound which was just too quiet to really appreciate Andy C’s jump-up set. Interestingly, though, a lot of the outdoor stages, of which there was at least 5, were a lot louder than than the covered drum and bass arena strangely enough. On the whole, though, sound-levels were really good throughout the festival, especially for the two main outdoor stages.
The big draw for the first day was the Warehouse Project Presents outdoor stage. Tucked away on the other side of the site its was placed in natural bowl backed by grass banks. Instead of furnishing it with live acts, as you might expect, it was actually the home for WHP regulars Eats Everything, Maceo Plex, Maya Jane Coles, Seth Troxler and Jamie Jones.
The sound was really good and the stage setup was even more impressive with the DJs surrounded by an imposing stack of shipping crates topped off with flame throwers. My only issue was that house music tends to work best in dark clubs with piercing lights and a killer sound systems, and not necessarily on a main stage during the day. Though, admittedly, that didn’t seem to bother anyone else as the stage was the busiest of all the arenas.
Highlights included Eat Everything’s early afternoon set, who seemingly realised plodding house probably wasn’t going to cut it and instead delivered a blinding set of old and new, with the crowd going especially wild for his edit of ‘It’s Gonnna Be A lovely Day‘ and Tiga’s ‘Lets Go Dancing‘. After Eats Everything was Maceo Plex who wowed the crowd with two hours of chugging, robotic house and techno, with his remix of Kavinsky’s ‘Nightcall‘ getting the biggest reaction of the day.
Once we got bored Maya Jane Coles morbid set we headed over the Now Wave tent to catch Chromeo’s live performance. Having never seen the Canadian funkateers before, their performance was easily the highlight of the day as the duo played a host of tracks from their new album. Better still was Dave-One’s reflective guitar which he used as a spot light to beam across up the arena. His partner in crime, P-Thugg was on fine form too, as the duo ran through feel-good hit after feel-good hit. Hightlights included ‘Jealous‘, ‘Sexy Socialite‘ and ‘Come Alive‘ with the only real downside being their set was just too short.
Overall Parklife was a massive success. We didn’t see any trouble, despite reports of some isolated incidents by some mindless idiots, and were able to exist the festival without a hitch. We did hear, though, through the grape-vine that the shuttle bus service laid on by the organisers suffered teething problems on the first night and there were worrying reports of crushes at the bus station as 70,000 festival goers tried to make their way back to the City Centre after a day of amazing music.