Parklife, one of Manchester’s largest and most diverse festivals, has concluded for its eighth year. Taking place at the enormous Heaton Park, this year’s sold out festival hosted some of the UK’s most iconic artists and performances. In true Manchester spirit, the impressive diversity of the line-up attracted attendees from all over the UK. Despite the cities’ recent tragedy, the atmosphere was sparkling; and not just because of the high concentration of glitter in the crowds.
Though Saturday’s weather is not in my favour, fortunately, the line-up is. Irish hip-hop artist and producer Rejjie Snow kills it at the Sounds Of The Near Future stage, and is followed by American rapper Mick Jenkins who’s stage presence is a force to be reckoned with. Elsewhere, Toddla T and Coco perform a fiery set at the Ape & Metropolis stage while Hannah Wants has everybody grooving at The Hangar. The Temple, which on the Saturday hosts the likes of Manchester’s Levelz, P Money, DJ EZ and Boy Better Know, is infallible for hyper vibes throughout the day. Though Aj Tracey’s cool beats get the mud-splattered crowd moving, DJ EZ’s iconic skills keep them that way, before Giggs and Boy Better Know close the evening with a grime extravaganza.
Early in the day, I get a chance to chat to North Base. The trio have not only performed at the festival for two years running but contributed to the curation of the Ape & Metropolis stage, which hosted a plethora of drum and bass legends across the weekend. North Base Members Silver and Wilf started Metropolis, one of the North’s most influential electronic club nights, 15 years ago. North Base and Metropolis, in Wilf’s words, are “intrinsically connected. Like a brother and sister”. I ask what went into the curation process for the stage, to which Wilf laughs: “15 years of madness.” He elaborates, “We were trying to get something that was balanced and was different to what was on the other stages as well.”
I ask the trio if they think it’s important for events like Parklife to proceed despite recent tragic attacks. Silver replies: “Of course, they have to. We can’t give into them, we have to keep going.” He continues, “with everything that’s happened in the past two weeks, we’ve lost friends. Marcus intalex, the Manchester bombing as well. Everyone supporting is nice and brings people up a bit.” We touch on the tragic and untimely loss of jump-up DJ and producer Dominator. Simon explains: “I knew Neil well. It’s messed up, it shouldn’t have happened”.
But in the face of loss, the UK’s music community is coming together like never before. Later in the day, The 1975 put on a touching tribute to the victims of the tragedy that took place in Manchester last month. They are joined on stage by the Mayor of Manchester, greater Manchester police and emergency service members who assisted with helping those affected by the attack. Following poignant speeches, a minute of noise is called while messages of love from some of the artists playing across the weekend were shown on screens, including Carl Cox and Goldie. Other Saturday highlights include drum and bass veterans Hype & DJ Hazard at the Ape & Metropolis stage, a hauntingly beautiful performance from London Grammar and a timeless and poignant set from the legendary Fatboy Slim.
The next day, back at the Sounds Of The Near Future stage, Loyle Carner gives one of my favourite performances of the weekend; his lyrics “Oh Please, we ain’t got no p’s” being chanted by hundreds of millennials feeling painfully relevant following recent political on goings. Next up is Sampha, offering a vocally flawless set. Having worked with huge names of the likes of Beyonce, Kanye West and Drake, Sampha’s come up is one to watch.
Later, at the Temple stage, Wiley’s vibe replenishes my energy and is followed by a diverse and crowd-hyping set from David Rodigan. What I manage to catch of Stormzy doesn’t disappoint, though the intensity of the crowd is a little too claustrophobia-inducing for me. The weekend’s pinnacle, Frank Ocean’s first UK festival performance since 2014, gets off to a slow start. The R&B singer makes his entrance 45 minutes late and proceeds to restart the first song 3 times. Ocean’s perfectionism is renown but doesn’t serve his live performance any favours. Despite this, his soaring vocals do create the perfect atmosphere for the last set of the weekend, and during his rendition of his hit ‘Thinking About You’ I shed a tear.
Early Bird tickets for Parklife 2018 are on sale now and available here