You can spend months putting together a festival. Setting stages, booking food vendors, compiling a line-up that caters for all those many critics out there.
What you can’t control is the weather. Forecasts on the lead up to Parklife were erring on the wet side and that proved the case during a sodden Saturday afternoon. The heavens opened, the poncho sellers rejoiced and Heaton Park’s luscious green fields were transformed into a swirling pit of mud, gobbling up all manner of footwear from drenched passers-by.
Bad weather to festival-goers is like water off a duck’s back though. A minor blot on an otherwise (metaphorically at least) sunny landscape. For those who persevered (and with queues to get in snaking back for what seemed like miles, you had to) they were rewarded with an eclectic line-up featuring Katy B, Rudimental and Snoop Dog along with a host of world renowned DJs.
By mid-afternoon the sun was breaking through and ponchos were being discarded quicker than the tiny £4 cans of Heineken.
Backed by brightening skies and a crowd drying out, George Ezra put on a pleasant enough display before Foxes got the main stage party in full swing with enough gusto to blow away the darkest of clouds.
Presented by Warehouse Project, Parklife is still very much a dance-centric event and it was impossible not to stumble into any one of the tents and be lifted by the likes of Factory Floor or electro funksters Chromeo who had the Now Wave tent shaking and its inhabitants moving to every groove infused beat.
Rudimental are now as mainstream as drum and bass gets and a large portion of the 60,000 strong crowd gathered at the main stage for their headline support slot. Not even a temporary power cut could keep them from surging through a set which from the first minute was ticking towards the inevitable explosion of ‘Waiting All Night’ and ‘Feel The Love’.
When he’s not being all money supermarket, Snoop Dog is a rap superstar with a list of hits longer than his dreads. And on Saturday night, in a sweater emblazoned with the Stars and Stripes he gave the Heaton Park hordes a performance spanning his two-decade career including ‘Next Episode’, ‘Gin and Juice’ and recent collaborations ‘California Gurls’ and ‘Wiggle’. The melodic rhyming, his styled hip hop timing, the laid back demeanour not disappearing for even a second.
Stages and tents were rebranded for day two. Hours of studious map analysis from the day before about as useful as the hundred of pounds worth of iPhone 5 in your pocket.
Parklife has no official fancy dress theme but this year’s would most certainly have come under 90s Revival. I haven’t seen that much Ellesse, Fila, and tie-dye since my mum emptied my wardrobe as I left for university.
That vibe was even more present on day two. Sunday had the weather (aside from a few showers) and for me at least had the better of the music. East India Youth, Jon Hopkins and Jamie xx all taking to the Sounds of the New Future tent, the latter creating an ethereal ambiance more befitting a spaceship than a tent in a field.
Radio One favourites Clean Bandit and Sam Smith sandwiched the excellent LA four-piece Warpaint and had huge crowds flocking to the main stage in the afternoon, Smith crooning his way through Arctic Monkey’s ‘Do I Wanna Know’.
If you made it to this point without being tempted by the mouthwatering food (in taste and price) on offer you’re a stronger person than I am. It seems the days of ropey £2 festival burgers are very much a thing of the past. The choice on offer at Parklife was phenomenal with the likes of Almost Famous, Nandos, Solita and Zouk all represented with dozens more on every corner.
I didn’t watch Bastille (sorry, just couldn’t do it). Doing a far better job of straddling the great indie and dance divide and coursing with seemingly endless energy, Foals headlined the Sunday main stage. ‘My Number’, ‘Inhaler’ and ‘Two Steps, Twice’ particular highlights in a set which had ragged two-day old revellers throwing themselves about like rag dolls in a washing machine.
Disclosure were still going strong as Foals left the stage and despite only being able to get within around five mile of the stage, it was close enough to witness a spectacular live set that may very well have drawn the largest crowd of the festival.
Parklife is now five years old. It’s growing and maturing with each passing year and its sixth birthday bash is sure to be one not to be missed.