Part 1 - Parklife Weekender 2013 - By Volume

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Part 1 – Parklife Weekender 2013

Tayyab reports from sunny(?!) Manchester on Warehouse Projects' big weekend out. Author: on June 11, 2013
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Manchester was once rarely associated with any particular festival oriented towards the youth or general music lovers of the UK. The people behind the monumental – even notorious – Warehouse Project recognised this, and thus the Parklife Weekender was born; initially aimed at the sizeable local student population, the festival spread its wings and took flight to a new location, upgrading to Heaton Park from the smaller, more urban Platt Fields space, to accommodate as many sorts of people as possible. This went in tandem with their mantra of fighting on all fronts, attempting to have the width and the depth in the line-up to accommodate all tastes and interests. I went to find out whether Parklife pulled it off.

Parklife Weekender

Parklife Weekender

Midday Saturday, I met with a friend and we used the express bus service provided by Parklife to ease attendees’ adjustment to the new, more distant venue, which turned out to be commendably effective, all things considered. We arrived on-site in time to hear Lapalux weave his carefully-crafted, crystalline beats into more approachable hip-hop, in a manner fitting to the day’s beginning. Unfortunately, a problem with the sound was evident from the offset, as the music was a little unclear, as well as soundtracked by the chatter and bass from surrounding tents. This would continue to irk, and remained present through Cyril Hahn’s set. In what was possibly the DJ set with the highest female-to-male ratio crowd ever seen in Parklife’s history, Hahn’s rudimentary mixing ability was eclipsed by his audience’s love for the likes of his hit remix of Destiny’s Child’s “Say My Name”.

Slightly disenchanted with the festival’s first chapter, we went for a stroll before returning to the Now Wave tent, hoping to see Baauer inevitably drop Harlem Shake for our own, admittedly insincere, amusement. Set times often go awry, but we were still surprised when, instead of the young trap producer, AlunaGeorge took to the stage as early as 3pm. The duo, backed by two other live members, opened with their 2012 EP hits, as well as the recent chart-topping songs “White Noise” and “Attracting Flies” – although it was their rendition of Montell Jordan’s “This Is How We Do It” which impressed most. Aluna’s voice is often the aspect under discussion, with her lacklustre performance on Jools Holland counting against her favour. This wasn’t the case at Parklife, and she managed to hold her own with regards to vocals and stage presence, even if the band’s set was no-nonsense to the point where crowd interaction could be called mythic.

Since the weather was uncharacteristically pleasant, checking out the outdoors main stage seemed appropriate. The Temper Trap seemed odd on this bill, as the festival tends to promote the new and the now, as opposed to the one-hit wonders of yesteryear. Their frontman was delightfully enthusiastic despite my doubts, his energetic demeanour enchanting the masses even before the band unleashed Sweet Disposition to round off a surprisingly good show.

John Talabot

John Talabot

For a third time, we entered our new temporary home, the Now Wave tent, to witness a riveting stunner of a set from John Talabot and partner in crime Pional. Once early microphone issues had been sorted out, we were treated to the majority of fIN, including “So Will Be Now…” and “Destiny”. Their constructions and creations utilising live vocals, keys, loops and beats, proved to be the first genuinely memorable act of the day.

As two-thirds of stellar electronic label Hessle Audio, Pearson Sound and Ben UFO’s taste is unquestionable. They weren’t afraid to delve into unknown techno territories, recent underground smashes like Joy Orbison’s “Big Room Tech House DJ Tool – Tip!” or throwback anthems such as Basement Jaxx’s “Red Alert”. The pair performed behind the decks akin to two peas in a pod, mixing so seamlessly it’d be difficult to tell on ears alone they were going back to back. Once more unto the Now Wave stage, where Daphni stirred up something scintillating in the vein of exotic house featuring his own productions on Jiaolong, a new Koreless cut and a personal favourite, Marc Kinchen’s infectious dub of Jodeci’s “Freek’n You”. Dan Snaith made for a formidable selector, injecting a little identity into Parklife’s DJ sets.

The artist also known as Caribou left to make way for his occasional DJ partner, Four Tet. Four Tet’s soulful work, which seemingly ventures deeper and deeper into dance-themed electronic music as time passes, was perfect for the festival environment. The sheer joyfulness and jubilation channelled by his songs are redeveloped and remixed in ways unique to each and every live set Four Tet performs. Highlights included the African folk of the white label he put out as KH not so long ago, plus peaks from Pink such as 128 Harps and Pyramid. I didn’t think it would get any better than hearing iconic songs like “Plastic People” and “Love Cry” reworked, but Four Tet was kind enough to provide an arsenal of giant, brightly-coloured balloons, and a personal army to fire volleys of them into the crowd. The move increased the interactivity of the set indefinitely, keeping festival-goers entertained and in an surreal, positive zone, with Four Tet proving the best set of Parklife 2013 to that point. We left the tent in a gob-smacked daze around 9.20pm, just in time to survive our first encounter with Au Seve coming from the interval DJ.

Four Tet's Balloons

Four Tet’s Balloons

Plan B headlined the main stage with his multi-media Ill Manors production. Preceding him was his hype man, the renowned beatboxer Faith SFX. Faith SFX would perform a minimix of inescapable anthems such as Niggas In Paris and The Prodigy’s Breathe. I found the one-man karaoke tribute band somewhat tiresome and uninspiring, and was happy to hear him introduce Plan B to the stage at last. Walking out after the 20th Century Fox jingle, Ben Drew performed songs from The Defamation of Strickland Banks and Ill Manors, backed by visuals from the Ill Manors film. Edited clips played in full between songs, as if the experience was essentially a live musical. Plan B’s explosive vocal delivery and relentless energy made for a good main stage set, while his backing band’s presence delivered another layer of texture needed to woo a crowd so large. The audience split into various mosh pits during the collaborations with Chase & Status and, as he performed the title tune from his latest LP, Plan B was accompanied by an entourage waving flares to further incite the on-stage riot. The problem was that, while executed well, it all became a bit bland and predictable. As such, we decided to see how Disclosure were doing back at our beloved Now Wave tent. It was overflowing, and we barely managed to arrive in time to see the chart-toppers bring out Jessie Ware and Sam Smith for a fitting celebration of their debut album’s success.

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