Sunday, 23 June 2013

Review // Parklife Festival 2013

Hey Sunday, how you holdin' up? The super-talented James Balmont of Three Beams and I ventured off to Parklife over at Heaton Park and had fun in the sun as I mentioned in my last post- we collectively made our notes through the form of selfies next to stage signs and Snapchats, duh, PROFESSIONALS! Our review is now live here at Crack so get clicking on over- I've also included the original, un-edited and more lengthy version below, if you want all the no-holds-barred details...
Parklife Festival 2013 @ Heaton Park

Having made the noble transition from hosting previous years of Parklife over at student Summer hub Platt Fields Park, the ever-growing gratification for increasing renowned artists and DJ’s alike saw this year’s team behind Manchester’s Warehouse Project expand to mecca-site Heaton Park for a two day extravaganza, involving one of the Summer’s most sterling bills of the season. Did they manage to pull off the mega spectacle or was it simply a case of too much too soon, in upscaling?
Boasting an array of stages, tents and pop-up mini settings, there was certainly no shortage of acts to catch, as broad stances from drum & Bass veteran labels and promoters such as Hospitality and Metropolis, bought the hundred-and-one-miles-an-hour pace of unforgiving bone-pummelling sets, right over to Hot Creations infiltrating the air with swathes of funky house- all aiding in ushering in the Summer at an alarmingly exciting rate. The likes of icon in the game Andy C,  as well as fresher faces SPY and Friction, lay down their own personal live improvisations and a whole haul of edits ranging from TLC’s ‘No Scrubs’, over to an eye-brow raising yet admirable drop of Usher’s ‘Climax’ and classic floor-fillers such as Robin S’s ‘Show Me Love’. It seems that not every set was as rigidly set in stone as audiences may have envisioned…and a rife welcome addition across the turntables, at that.
Over at Now Wave’s hand-picked congregation, Four Tet’s re-invention as a modern dance musician might seem a shame to those who thrived on his past albums – once dubbed ‘folktronica’ by the press – but it would be a crime to criticise it as his supremacy is untouchable. With 2010’s anthem ‘Love Cry’ ending the set in euphoria it is easy to see why Kieran Hebden is invited back to the city and to play such heralded slots, so frequently. A similar story could be told about Dan Snaith’s Daphni alias also, as Jiaolong favourites ‘Yes, I know’ and ‘Ye Ye’ divulge the audience with disco-meets-industrial peaks and old school Altern 8 vocal samples bring it right back to the heart of the rave. 
Disclosure topped off the night with a headline performance in celebration of the most astounding of feats – the confirmation that their debut album had gone straight to number one in the UK album charts. And with performances like this they simply cannot be faulted. Boasting possibly the most precise and clear sound of the whole festival, they dominated their audience with a rich and plentiful set that featured collaborations from both Jessie Ware and Sam Smith, with the canvas-topped fun also rolling over into the festival’s second day. Hidden out over at one of the site’s far-flung corners was one of the loudest and messiest stages; both the Drop The Mustard tent and David Rodigan’s RamJam collectively over the two days, placed at the foot of a rolling hill that seemed to serve as a gigantic naughty-step for its tenacious audience. As one of the few scenic and spacious corners of the festival,  it seemed fitting to leave it to a living legend such as the reggae connoisseur by the end of the weekend, although we can’t help but feel that the less than effective ten-out-one-in system overshadowing Dusky’s swelteringly charged set, left many frazzled and faded after queuing just for entry the majority of the afternoon. Yet, it’s not all burnt shoulders when it comes to DTM’s primary local Manchunian pickings, as revellers searching for some of the true blossoming talents of the city couldn’t have done better than to stumble across Sian Bennett’s set inside the appropriately-titled Mirror Mirror tent. The tightly-packed dance space offered a sublime atmosphere in a relentless deep house set that dropped and dropped, ultimately providing itself as one of the festival’s greatest reflections of the city’s glorious nightlife- and Parklife certainly didn’t forget about other local ‘little men’ bookings alongside world-class acts…
One of our favourite LuckyMe Family, Hoya: Hoya residents and strictly all-vinyl femme fatale Éclair Fifi was handed the honourable opening slot over on Hudson Mohawke’s curated stage once the hangovers had crept across Heaton Park come Parklife’s second day- and for a petite blonde bombshell of a figure bopping across her colossal setting to an unfortunately miniature crowd, those wise enough to attend were alleviated with techno Kelly Rowland tracks and high-octane pure pop Cassie cuts, assisting in initialising some questionably feral (yet fabulous) dance moves for a Sunday lunchtime. And the Hoya love didn’t grind to a halt there, as Manchester’s very own dons’ Krystal Klear and Chunky bought the dynamism to stand-out stratums with sudden mixes embracing MK’s II dub remix of Storm Queen’s ‘Look Right Through’, glorifyingly streamlined into Chic’s ‘Everybody Dance’ that within five minutes of entering, have the tent immediately animated with hands-in-the-air classics and foot-stomping vigour, pouring right out onto the surrounding fields from every safety exit viewable.
Oh and those big guns we were referring to? As one of the most hyped acts of the weekend, Jurassic 5 were unsurprisingly triumphant on their first U.K. performance since splitting in 2007. The hip hop troupe paraded around in the most ecstatic of fashions, integrating a comically-oversized turntable prop as much as possible into a hit-laden set that featured the likes of ‘Concrete Schoolyard’, ‘What’s Golden’ and ‘Quality Control’. Also performing a special appearance over the weekend was the honestly candid Danny Brown, rolling out his twanging spits of ‘Blunt After Blunt’ and ‘Lie4’ that propelled him into being noticed as something of a new classic within modern rap- it was just a shame that timetabling errors (which were amended over the festival’s social networking sites yet minimal signal meant that many were left uninformed…) were not highlighted to attendees, with Brown being just one in a long list across the festival’s 48 hours that were switched and changed without reasoning or explanation.

It seemed a great shame that, for all the work put in to making the festival bigger and better, Parklife left behind a shedload of the character and personality that it had in previous years. No longer does it feel like there’s a stage round the corner waiting to be discovered – the mazes of greenery and open grass are abandoned here in favour of an open, singular space, with stages arranged in a less-than-exciting fashion. Despite the multiple problems faced with entrances, organisation and wrongly-advertised stage times that should, due to the festival’s up-scale, have been ironed out; make no mistake that the Parklife Weekender 2013 managed to still provide an excellent event full of rememberable performances and sun-soaked debauchery thanks to top-class bookings and individually-curated bills. This is the music-lovers inner-city festival of the North and not one live set nor performance we saw over the weekend disappointed in the slightest. Here’s to 2014 and hoping that the team will return greater and improvingly formulated run. 

Words by Yours Truly & James Balmont / Images all by Daniel Watson X

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