Saturday 7th & Sunday 8th June 2014 - Parklife Weekender @ Heaton Park, Manchester
Words: Rakhi Sinha
The lightning and torrential downpours pretty much went unnoticed at Parklife as thousands of 20-somethings, hell-bent on getting trashed no matter the weather, flocked to the two-day festival.
Manchester's Heaton Park was turned into a mucky mud bath but headline acts like RUDIMENTAL and SNOOP on Saturday night and BASTILLE and FOALS on Sunday had people dancing up a storm in their wellies regardless.
Opening day saw revellers in their identikit festival outfits dodging the rain in tents and marquees around the site… once they got in. The start of the festival was an organisational nightmare with long queues and angry punters turned away because their e-tickets wouldn't scan.
All was forgotten once inside and upbeat, drum and bass acts provided the soundtrack to day one. SHY FX took the young crowd on a journey from late 90s tracks onwards, while 30-somethings welcomed the sound of familiar club classics. 'Gold Dust' was a hit with everyone.
Over at the Red Bull stage, Manchester's own ILLUM SPHERE played a set that skipped effortlessly between genres and got the crowd moving, and ANDY C added to the drum and bass vibe of the day at the Hospitality stage.
It wasn't a total washout, the sun made an early evening appearance, prompting a huge queue at the ferris wheel and a roaring trade at the Mr Whippy van. Aside from the street food stalls, bars and music tents though, there was little else for revellers to do.
By the time the headline acts made an appearance on the main stage, it had all got a bit too much for some. The mud became welcome ground for the wasted and although the festival was largely chilled out, some idiots did ruin the peace here and there.
RUDIMENTAL provided the warm up for SNOOP and seemed totally undeterred by the fact they were opening for the hip hop legend.
Arms were up in the air for the entire set...until the sound was unexpectedly cut off. It wasn't the first time this would happen over the weekend, but RUDIMENTAL shouted "this ain't gonna stop us, sing it with me", and continued on.
Sticking with the drum and bass flavour of the day, the band covered 'Super Sharp Shooter' by the Ganja Kru before finishing up with guaranteed crowd pleaser 'Feel the Love'.
SNOOP DOGG owned the stage as soon as he set foot on it working the packed crowd from start to finish. Looking fly in a jumper with a US flag on it he ploughed through one hit track after the next, including renditions of Biggie's 'Hypnotize', Kriss Kross' 'Jump Around' and the most surprising cover of the entire weekend, 'I Love Rock n Roll'.
To Sunday and all-night partygoers looked as weathered as the muddy fields, but early rays of sunshine quickly had them supping on beers and fruity cider once again.
Like Saturday, the day's line-up was largely DJ-focused with Manchester legends the UNABOMBERS kicking things off in the Under 500 arena. SBTRKT and JAMIE XX provided heavy beats to make sure dancers never stopped moving their legs, while over at the main stage LA girl band WARPAINT half-heartedly tried to encourage people to dance to their mellow melodies.
SOUL II SOUL managed to create an intimate party feel over at the Colonnade as the band celebrated 25 years of being in the music business. Despite most of the audience being a twinkle in their parents' eye at the start of the band's music career, the vibrant and energetic backing singers had young and older getting down and singing loud.
Classics such as 'Keep on Movin' had people really going for it and to end the party fun Jazzy B said he was going to play a track for all those people who'd got nicked "because they couldn't hide the colour" - 'Back 2 Life'.
PUBLIC ENEMY, who were on after the band, even popped down to soak up the soulful sounds.
When it was their turn to take to the stage, hip hop's most militant group gave it their all, not even stopping when the sound cut out during 'Don't Believe the Hype'. It was easy to forget that these guys are middle-aged.
Chuck D, Flava Flav and DJ Lord had boundless energy, Flava was jumping around the stage, rapping, playing drums, dancing and shouting 'Yeah Boy' for about 5 minutes without stopping for a breath. Chuck D had a harmonica at one point and those who lasted the entire show got to see DJ Lord doing some tricks on the decks.
The extended set finished with Flava saying how much he hates racism and separatism "no matter what colour we are, we're all god's children" he shouted.
Then he got everyone to stick their middle finger up to racism, make a peace sign for togetherness followed by a fist for power, "with peace and togetherness we'll all have so much power" he said walking off stage.
Main stage highlights for Sunday night began with BASTILLE and frontman Dan Smith blowing teeny boppers away with crowd pleasers like 'Of the Night' and the very nasal 'Pompeii' and it's repetitive chanting sound.
FOALS brought the festival to a close with a tracklist that spanned all three of their albums and included 'Inhaler', 'Balloons' and 'Spanish Sahara'. Lead singer Yannis Philippakis told the crowd it was to help them get their "frustration and anger" at the rainy weekend out.
But the weather hadn't dampened spirits anyway and no doubt next year Parklife will be another triumphant sell-out come rain or shine.