Parklife Review 2017

Having released one of their most diverse lineups to date, Parklike Festival in Manchester had a lot of expectations to live up to. The sold out festival which has seen the likes of Snoop Dog, The Chemical Brothers and Foals perform previously brought together some of the biggest names in grime, techno and indie music together at a muddy Heaton Park.

Festival goers who weren’t shy to disregard the rain in their outfit choices were treated to a predominately indie genre collection of acts on the main stage on the first day of the festival. George Ezra, with his emotionally soulful voice, performed after what seemed to be a lengthy hiatus from the music scene after the success of his debut album. Ironically George Ezra’s tune Did You Hear the Rain? was played whilst the heavens opened on the packed crowd at the main stage. Playing a mixture of tracks from his debut album including Blame It on Me, Cassy O’ and the Brit nominated Budapest, Ezra surprised the audience with a few new tracks which had been performed in his secret gigs across the county. Shortly after, Two Door Cinema Club came on – they headlined the festival during the height of their career several years ago. The band showed that they still have the energy they had in the mid 2000’s as they powered through a mixed set of songs from their early days such as Undercover Martyn, I Can Talk and This Is The Life. After the success of their latest album, which was ever so a revival of the electric indie music they produced in their early albums, Two Door Cinema Club weren’t shy to tease the audience who were bouncing around to the music, with tracks from the latest album. Are We Ready? (Wreck) and Bad Decisions had the crowd grooving and shouting along to the tracks.

Andy Hughes
Andy Hughes

The Main Stage at Parklike Day One wasn’t the only stage that hosted talent from the music industry. The Temple stage was the home to some of the biggest acts in grime, garage and rap music with the likes of LEVELZ, Giggs and DJ EZ. Whilst The 1975 took their artistic performance to headline the Main Stage at Parklife, Boy Better Know headlined The Temple stage bringing their London Grime tracks to a packed crowd proving that grime music has become one of the biggest music movements of the 21st century.

The Sounds of The Near Future stage presented a mixture of artists under the blue tent roof, producing some of the biggest new talent in the music industry. Whether the acts had reinvented themselves, such as London Grammar who headlined the stage with their eerie and tender performance, or acts who had simply released new music in the past year such as Australian dance/psych duo Jaguar Ma. The stage was the place to be to discover a mixture of music genres and acts who could one day be headlining the Main Stage like the predecessors before them.

Despite some of the biggest acts in current music headlining the festival across the different stages, The Hangar Stage was the place to be on the rainy Saturday night at the festival. One of the founding producers of UK club music and one who mixed funk, soul, techno, house and acid music together headlined the stage. Fatboy Slim who has been creating and producing for over 20 years performed a lengthy set mixed with some of his biggest tracks including Praise You and Eat, Sleep, Rave, Repeat. Fatboy Slim led an emotional tribute to those who had lost their lives in the Manchester terrorist attack as he played Oasis’ iconic Don’t Look Back in Anger which had the crowd singing along to the emotional track which has become a uniting song for those across Manchester. Despite being in the club music scene for over 20 years, Fatboy Slim showed no sign of ageing or ‘losing it’ as crowds flocked to see him at The Hangar Stage, showing how legendary his performances are.

Day Two at Parklife saw the removal of the indie aspect of the festival as the lineup became more techno, house and grime inspired. Drum and Bass found its home at The Temple Stage where acts such as David Rodigan, Andy C and Congo Natty brought drum and bass beats to Manchester’s Heaton Park. The Temple stage also saw the likes of Wiley perform hits such as Heatwave and Can You Hear Me? alongside headliner Damian “Jr. Gong” Marley who mixed drum and bass with reggae vibes, a top crowd pleaser.

All attention was focused on Frank Ocean who headlined The Main Stage, where every festival goer buzzed with excitement and anticipation to whether he would perform after his three year hiatus. Before he headlined the festival’s second and final night, Jess Glynne, Zara Larsson and Rag n Bone Man warmed up the stage for one of the biggest and most talked about acts in popular music. Prior to Frank Ocean’s anticipated headline set, Run The Jewels played and gathered a respectfully large amount of fans to The Main Stage. The hip-hop duo engrossed political issues within their music and told the audience to not let themselves feel dragged down by those from the top. This message brought a great deal of roars and cheers which empowered the duo to continue their set, projecting some of their most emotional and gripping hip-hop tunes.

Whilst many people rushed to The Main Stage to get a good spot for Frank Ocean, Stormzy was tearing up the Sounds of The Near Future Stage with crowds having to pile outside the tent to catch a glimpse of the grime god. Shape of You had the crowd bouncing along whilst those outside danced along to the chorus. After the somewhat mellow tune, Stormzy declared he wanted to create ‘the biggest moshpit ever’ which left a vast space in the middle of the tent before he kicked into Big For Your Boots which had the crowd moshing and jumping around to the track.

Although half an hour late, Frank Ocean took to The Main Stage starting his first performance since 2014 with track Solo. Although people questioned if Frank Ocean would play any other tracks, he proved that this was his time to show to people that he wasn’t going to back down, treating the thousands in front of him to 17 songs and even a limited edition selection of merch at a stand across from the stage.

It’s safe to say that out of all the festivals in the UK, Parklike remains to be one of the only festival to attract the widest range of audience types from the girls covered in glitter to the lads donning air max and caps. A festival that shows how Manchester is united through the beauty of music.

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