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Parklife Festival returned to Manchester’s Heaton Park earlier this month, boasting headline performances by The xx, Liam Gallagher, Skepta and N.E.R.D, as well as some of the most exciting international emerging talent. This year marked the festival’s ninth outing, adding the Valley Stage onto what had already established itself as one of the UK’s leading festivals.
With so much going down across the site, here’s everything we learned when we spent the weekend in Heaton Park at Parklife.
Rise of the next generation
In the current music climate, artists are rapidly gaining fame and those that don’t have their finger on the pulse can be left asking who. This speedy success can sometimes have a negative effect on the artist’s ability to play live. Yet Parklife hosts a handful of young British talent that are making sure they hone their live craft as well as online. One stand out was Dave who had the Sounds Of The Near Future stage absolutely bouncing on the Sunday. The schedule then proceeded to continue the showcase with Mercury Music Prize nominee J Hus who brought out a house band; a rarity across the weekend. It’s testament to the strength of emerging artists in the British scene.
House is still going VERY strong
Parklife has grown largely because of the choice in music, but one thing Manchester’s Warehouse Project team do so well is continue to showcase the best electronic artists from across the globe. Whether it’s house, disco, garage or DnB there is a corner of the field for you. There are too many to mention the festival particularly welcomes amazing sets on the Elrow Bronx Stage with Richy Ahmed doing what he does best. Up-and-coming Mall Grab, known for crossing genres through his sets, proves his brilliance, and top selector Annie Mac truly brings it.
The mainstream is getting in on the action
N.E.R.D arguably offer the standout performance on the Parklife Main Stage, with the producers, DJs and vocalists seemingly inviting the entire festival onto the stage for the euphoric closer Lemon. It tops a bill boasting various genres suited to a huge range of music tastes. Skepta battles bad weather to perform to his adoring crowd who have withstood the rain to be down the front. A far cry from hearing Wonderwall performed by an average covers band, the man himself Liam Gallagher leads of huge singalong on the Main Stage. All are evidence of Parklife’s growth year on year, offering a brilliant atmosphere for those looking to catch their favourite superstars live. The introduction of new stages and arenas to witness the action proves to be an inspired idea.
The rise of the underground
Skepta headlining above Liam Gallagher in Manchester means that he is now a mainstream artist. Gone are the days of his basement battles with Devilman. With this he brings a raw energy that feels like you are in a small club with bangers like Man (Gang) and his new song with A$AP Rocky, Praise The Lord, the crowd were just as energetic. The entire field blends the new and established perhaps more so than any other live event, and the result is a pure celebration.
One thing Parklife proves every year is that music is at the heart of all Mancunians, which shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. Heaton Park has the energy, the people and the music.
Words by George Hellens