With a main stage line-up that many, more established festivals would envy, and a solid programme of underground acts that testified the organisers' musical credentials (Parklife comes from the same stable as the Warehouse Project and Hideout Festival), the stage was set for the best Parklife weekender yet. If only that bloody rain would stop…
While the main stage fell under the spell of huge name acts including The Flaming Lips, Dizzee Rascal, Chic ft Nile Rodgers, Kelis, Labrinth, De La Soul and many more, Skiddle went exploring the festival's various other stages to experience some of the musical diversity that makes Parklife so unique...
Over at the Kaluki Arena (in association with Skiddle) there was a strong line-up of residents and regulars. Kaluki had more than managed to bring the club atmosphere of Sankeys to the middle of a park in Fallowfield. Of course Mr Kaluki himself, Ellesse, was at his finest and Romano Alfieri and Luca Bear delivered a phenomenal set. The Family Affair duo did Italy proud. Their influences ranging from funky house to more electronic and techno was dynamic yet the right balance, just like the tent's line-up for the day. James Mile & Marco Effe, Us & Them, Jozef K and Pete Zorba had Kaluki pumping throughout the day.
Headlining the tent was another highly acclaimed female producer, Heidi. Having played for Kaluki a number of times she has also played the world's best clubs. With such an impressive biography and impeccable ear for sound, it's safe to say Heidi had the entire tent eating out of her hands. From her presence on stage, her charisma, energy and passion are evident. Known for being influenced by the house scene and underground culture, her offering is daring. Despite being so technical, the sound is so tight and appears effortless. Kaluki knew exactly what they were doing getting this girl to headline their empire for the weekend. She was utter brilliance. JW
Despite the myriad dance tents around Platt Fields, Now Wave’s genre-spanning line-up proves to be the most consistent draw for Parklife’s damp and weary punters. And while the Manchester promoters’ headline acts are a coup for a festival that has grown year on year, many of the weekend’s exceptional performances come courtesy of acts lower down the arena’s line-up.
Case in point, German producer Axel Willner who, as The Field, released one of last year’s most inventive electronic albums (Kompakt’s ‘Looping State Of Mind’) and in November brought his stage show to The Deaf Institute. While his live performance that cold Monday night emphasized the heavier end of his production, his mid-afternoon showing under Parklife’s sun-kissed canvas flips that coin, bringing to the fore the euphoric elements of tracks like ‘It’s Up There’, which shadowed in Winter rain are hypnotic and intense, rather than joyous and warm.
- Date: Sunday 10th June 2012
- Event: Parklife Festival 2012 at Platt Fields Park
- Venue: Platt Fields Park
- Artists: Annie Mac, Erol Alkan, Fake Blood, High Contrast, Simian Mobile Disco, DJ Hype, Sub Focus, Maya Jane Coles, Art Department, Toddla T, Heidi, James Zabiela, Damian Lazarus, Nero, Claude VonStroke, Kelis, Jaguar Skills, Zane Lowe, Mistajam, Goldie
That same duality goes for Mount Kimbie, who return from a recent post-debut absence to second-headline a Sunday tent bursting at the seams. The London duo rarely put a foot wrong live, weaving together a set of steadily pulsating yet rarely repetitive dubstep-influenced electronic, and with a handful of new tracks maintaining the briskness and momentum of old favourites like ‘Carbonated’ it’s hard not to be excited for their return to record, next year on new label Warp Records.
Perhaps the most surprising highlight of the weekend, Crystal Castles’ headline showing at the close of the first night is a revelation. Considering the Canadian duo’s less than optimal reputation for live shows (often involving Alice Glass’ fists), there’s a level of exciting unpredictability for them above and beyond any other act on this year’s bill. Yet with the tent filled with smoke and lit only by a thick band of strobes, the pair open with the first live outing for a new and as-yet unnamed track before storming through material from both albums, in a seamless and relentless hour-long showing.
Honourable mentions are owed to Alt-J’s hugely well-attended jaunt through the delicate folksiness showcased on their recent Top 20 debut album, Factory Floor - consistently one of the strongest live acts in the UK, yet dealt a bad hand with a mid-afternoon set that hardly suits their industrial brand of electronica - and Django Django, whose influence from Devo’s thrillingly minimal post-punk even stretches to the matching t-shirts they change into before stage time. WO
At the Crosstown Rebels site we were blown away by Maceo Plex's incredible live set. His deep, sultry techno house sounds mirrored well with the vibe in there. His own eclectic combination of techno, electronic and house created a form of modern, experimental funk and minimal. "Aint That Love" in particular, was a key track of the set. Back at Crosstown Rebels later in the day, the main man Damian Lazarus was keeping the the crowd fresh and alive with a set full of surprises. Combining so many elements Lazarus has a talent for the exciting and unusual with his murky, yet addictive and inspired tech house. JW
Switching across to Chibuku for some of Justin Robertson's primitive house, and some tech house later that evening with James Zabiela, was special. The Chibuku tent had one of the strongest line-ups on the day. There were literally people that had picked a spot as soon as they arrived and stayed in there for the duration as there wasn't any need for them to venture elsewhere. Screen Death, D/R/U G/S and Parklife favourites Fake Blood played absolute blinding sets and seemed to feature in many of the incessant chatter throughout the park that day also. JW
Sunday saw us spend some time in the colourful Desperados arena, listening to some decent break beat music with a relaxed MC. The sun was shining, the Deperados were flowing, some skate boarders and BMX riders were flying around on a mini ramp to give some light entertainment and the vibe was nothing short of class. While we were there, a team of burly blokes started playing drums in time to the DJ’s beats. Paint was poured on the drums and the team came to life, drawing in crowds from all over. At that point, it felt as though Sunday had well and truly landed for. SE
As well as Julio Bashmore, Wax:On housed a must see later in the day in the form of the highly acclaimed, award winning Maya Jane Coles. Her infused takeover on old skool Chicago house "smashed it". A melodic and animated set of systematic deep house supported recent critics' praise and the whole tent could not get enough. JW
On Sunday night we headed to the Metroplex tent for a good bit of ‘Erol Alkan’. As per, he didn’t let us down, by plying a nice variety of electro tunes with a few rock beats thrown in for good measure. Later that night the same stage saw ‘Justice’ play one of the stand out performances of the entire weekend. The tent was completely rammed and people stood where they could, including outside the tent. SE
With Parklife working towards a move to pastures new in time for next year’s event, the hope is that, afforded a larger site, their consistently impressive line-ups will continue to expand. Roll on June 2013!
Words: Jo-Anne Waddington, Will Orchard and Sam Ellery
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Originally published: 19th Jun 2012