2 days of house music, friends, dancing, rain and mud. Lots of mud. The festival in Manchester's Heaton Park took place on the 11th and 12th June. Our group had an early start, and we beat the queues on the Saturday. As the 140,000 capacity venue filled up, we stayed by the Circus stage where we saw some world-class DJs playing to a very small number of people at first: here's Dixon, who was voted the Best DJ in the World by house music website Resident Advisor .
Here he is playing alongside Yousef.
Here's Ben Klock who later took over.
After this we headed up the hill to the zoologically-themed Elrow tent, the same brand that runs a weekly night in Space Ibiza. Inflatable wild animals, rain forest designs and tribal-themed performers set the tone. Groove Armada were hidden away on the decks behind the jungle paraphernalia and intermittent bursts of confetti. This was the most colourful and vibrant of all the stages. Great stuff. Like all tents at the festival, it was heaving with people avoiding the rain, which was largely persistent for the two days. The weather dampened the grass (which became a huge arena of mud) but not our spirits.
SoulIISoul performing Back to Life at Parklife by matthewtuckey
Couldn't get into the tent to see Craig David by matthewtuckey
Here's Todd Terje in the Now Wave tent, playing much more chilled vibes than other areas. A great way to balance out the harder techno being played at in the festival. Couldn't get much closer.
Hot since 82 and Heidi by matthewtuckey
As the sun went down we convened at the main stage to watch The Chemical Brothers. I was impressed that they played a lot of their older hits like Setting Sun, which was one of the first singles I ever bought. A large-scale, crazy light show complimented their set.
Chemical Brothers playing Setting Sun at Parklife by matthewtuckey
Chemical Brothers at Parklife 2 by matthewtuckey
We then joined an absolutely biblical queue for a bus back to the centre of Manchester.
Day 2: We again beat the entrance queues, but this time a sniffer dog took a liking to me.
“What have you got?” The dog handler asked. “What is it?” She was very stern. You could imagine someone cracking under pressure like that. For the record, the sniffer dog was wrong. I had nothing, and told the handler. I mentioned antihistamines for hayfever. She grabbed me by the arm and led me into another tent where a handful of other people were waiting with a sheet of paper between their hands. I was given a sheet to hold so they could see I wasn't fidgeting, or removing anything from my person.
She addressed the group of us- mostly young lads and girls, one older guy. “Guys, if you've got anything to declare and you tell us now, you might still get access into the festival. But if you hide anything and we find it, your ticket will be torn up and you'll be handed over to the police.”
Yeah, right, I thought. That's one way of speeding up the process. Blag people into admitting what they've got by offering false immunity.
Eventually I was led into further section of the tent. The security guard, and aging fella, asked me to lay all my belongings on a table.
“You're a little bit older than most of the people out there so I'm going to expect you to be responsible,” he said. “Now, I'm just going to ask you at this point. Do you have anything on you that you shouldn't have?”
“Okay. Take off your shoes. Drop your trousers to your knees and place your hands on the table.”
He patted me down and, well, briefly examined me- nothing too invasive thankfully. “Nah, he's got nothing,” he mumbled to his colleague.
I was allowed to pull my clothes back and refill my pockets. Then I had to fill in a form giving my personal details, and at last I was set free into the festival where my mates had graciously waited for me.
First up we found 99 Souls (who recently remixed Brandy's The Girl is Mine) playing in the Big Top tent.
Although the stages and tents and vendors were all well- maintained, the toilets were not. They were fucking vile. I don't ever want to piss in an overflowing trough again. These were not manned and there was a steady queue every time I went.
I saw Julio Bashmore playing in the Bugged Out tent- I kinda stumbled across him when I was looking in the set times to figure out who I was watching. I'm a fan of his tracks like Au Seve and Holding On. Nice experience.
We took a break from dancing some time in the afternoon and sat on the grass at the main stage. This coincided with Jess Glynn's set. She's not someone I would choose to listen to, but I really enjoyed her emotional performance, where she sang her hits like Ain't got Far to Go and Hold My Hand. She also gave an impressive cover of Shaka Khan's I feel for You.
Next up: Radio 1's Annie Mac, wearing a black raincoat with RAVING emblazoned across the back and animated visuals chroma-keyed in behind a live feed of herself on the decks. With her black 80's perm she really reminded me of someone. In retrospect, it's Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio in Scarface. (Tony's sister.)
Grime artist Skepta took over after her, who again isn't someone I'd plan into my festival schedule, but we stopped to watch him. Entertaining, and providing for a crowd very different than the one before him.
I think my team wanted to round off with Major Lazer, who I'd have been happy to see had it not clashed with my must-see, MK. So I told them I'd be in the Big Top tent and snuck off. I caught the end of Hannah Wants' set, where she played some great 00's era garage. I noticed that she'd played at Albert Hall recently, but at the time it was the first I'd heard of her. Great DJ. Damned good looking too.
MK took over after her, playing quite a few of his remixes as well as other tracks- all slightly more melodic than a lot of the techno-based music being played in other tents. A lot of these tracks I recognised as his own. I've been meaning to see this guy for years. He didn't disappoint and it won't be the last time I see him.
The end of the festival was chaotic: a surge of Syrian proportions pushed me straight out of the tent and towards an exit that I hadn't come in through, or at least I didn't recognise it. I couldn't see the makeshift bus terminal, and when I phoned my team they couldn't picture where I was from my description. Heading back onto the field was impossible. I found myself out on the Bury street trying to figure out where I was. I knew the rest of the team would be at the bus terminal by now, ready to head back to the city centre, but I was so close to the tram stop that I figured it would be safer to queue there.
I made it back to town a good hour before the rest of my group, who'd come back by Parklife bus and had had to queue. Two years ago, when I last attended Parklife, the trams weren't running at all, so it looks like there's a bit more organisation these days. I recommend full waterproofs and walking boots: it might sound like overkill but you'll definitely be dry and your feet will thank you. It's not as easy to dance, but I'd rather have limited movement than risk trenchfoot.
Parklife 2017, yeah?