By Georgina Hurdsfield
Photography: Georgina Hurdsfield
This weekend saw the annual return of Parklife festival, catering to fans of electronic, dance, indie and grime. The curators of Parklife have certainly found their feet at Heaton Park, stepping up their organisation of the site and increasingly impressive line-ups.
This year music fans from all over Greater Manchester and beyond soaked up the sun as it shone over the opening day of Parklife. The first act of the day we caught happened to be LEVELZ, Manchester’s very own bassy hip-hop crew who were vocal of their Manchester pride as they sang ‘0161’ to the large crowd that had gathered around the Valley stage. There seemed to be a common theme throughout LEVELZ’s energetic set – drugs. “Does anyone do drugs out here?” asked a member of LEVELZ to the grinning crowd before proceeding to sing one of their most popular songs ‘Drug Dealer’, which was clearly a fan favourite.
Moving to the Parklife Stage, we saw Mercury Prize winner, Sampha. The British producer played a package of emotional, feverish pop. Although most of the songs were heavily weighted with emotive lyrics, the sound of his music whilst the sun was beating down created a very mellow vibe whilst a modest amount of Parklife-goers took a break from the pounding music that was playing elsewhere.
For a distinct shift in atmosphere, Lorde set a faster tempo for the Parklife Stage for fans wanting to boogie in what was left of the evening sun. Her set felt very personal as she often spoke out to the crowd as if she was having an individual conversation with every single one of us. Playing a mix of songs from her debut album Pure Heroine and latest album Melodrama spanning her whole career. Her set was truly electrifying and the crowd were obviously impressed.
N*E*R*D were next to take the Parklife Stage. The performance was high in energy and very enjoyable. Pharrell’s mention of the tragic events that took place at the Ariana Grande concert last year seemed to bring the crowd together to hold up big fans of N*E*R*D who had chosen to crowd surf. However, when Pharrell dropped his Neptunes-era beats from Snoop’s ‘Drop It Like It’s Hot’ to more modern hits like Kendrick Lamar’s ‘Alright’, the crowd seemed to dance more than N*E*R*D’s very own songs.
Last but not least were The xx, who wound down the crowd with their euphoric, brooding performance in which each member showed their appreciation for Manchester as the sun blissfully set. Although Jamie xx can be considered a Parklife veteran, The xx mentioned it was their first ever time at Parklife, and they confidently made a hell of a debut. The xx played a set that was not to be forgotten and we look forward to the next time they play Manchester.
The Sunday of Parklife brought some acts perfectly pinpointed to the young audience, however, it also brought along Manchester’s renowned weather forecast – rain.
The first act of the day we caught was Mabel, a British R&B newcomer from London with her very own distinctive sound and style. Mabel performed an exciting set in which the younger crowd could find her gutsy lyrics relatable. Mabel worked the Sounds of the Near Future stage like it was an extension of her body. We are looking forward to what Mabel has to offer next.
Up next Sigrid took to the Parklife main stage in front of the large crowd that had gathered to see her. Parklife should be praised for its amount of female artists on the line-up in comparison with other festivals this year, especially considering how many talented female artists appear on the main stage. Sigrid did an excellent job of showcasing her girl power with her impressive vocals and groovy dancing as she enjoyed her time on stage, smiling the whole way through her set.
For a distinct shift in genre we caught Manchester’s own indie-dance veterans Everything Everything who played an electrifying homecoming set. Crowd-pleasers such as ‘Distant Past’ and ‘Cough Cough’ got the crowd dancing in what was left of the glorious weather for the weekend.
Chvrches were next to take on the Parklife stage and managed to draw in a massive crowd despite the downpour. They certainly showed their appreciation for it by putting on a dazzling performance featuring all of their pop hits. Many members of the crowd danced as if they had came to Parklife just to see Chvrches and in spite of the dreary weather videoed their whole set.
The next act we caught needs no introduction but we are going to introduce him anyway – Liam Gallagher. One of the most highly anticipated sets of Parklife, as promised LG gave the people what they wanted by playing a set full of Oasis classics and even played ‘Wonderwall’. Amongst the bustle in-between songs, every person in the crowd was claiming to be the biggest Oasis fan to their friends and the people surrounding them whilst shouting Liam consistently after every song. LG was not the first person to mention the tragic attack at Manchester Arena last year, but his dedication of the song ‘Live Forever’ hit home for many of the proud Mancunians in the crowd.
With the Parklife line-up becoming ever more ambitious, it is clear why the fest is sold-out each year. We are more than excited to see what the curators of Parklife have to offer for the tenth anniversary of the festival next year.
See you in 2019!