Review: Parklife 2016 (Ice Cube, Fat White Family, Wolf Alice, Years & Years, Circa Waves, + more)

I was absolutely buzzing to be asked to cover Parklife for the third year in a row, it’s one of the best events Manchester has to offer and has artists from all areas of music coming together to give Heaton Park a massive party. The first thing to mention was how well organised it was, everything from getting there and back to queuing at the bars was brilliantly done and there were no complaints from me. Now on to the music.

Getting into the true Parklife spirit, I can’t remember every single thing I saw last weekend, but I remember most of it and here are my highlights. On the Saturday we went straight to the Big Top to catch some bands doing what they do best. When we arrived Fat White Family were playing an incredible set to a crowd who may not have all arrived as fans but certainly left wanting to hear more. We then made our way to the main stage to see Gorgon City who provided exactly what the damp crowd needed – pop hits to sing along to, the highlight being Ready For Your Love. Straight after Gorgon City we joined what had to be the majority of Parklife in watching Stormzy storm the main stage (sorry, I had to). You could really tell grime had hit the mainstream and watching the whole of the crowd rap “Shut Up” was a personal highlight.

Sigma were next and played one of the best sets of the weekend, they are one of them bands where you did not realise you knew all their songs until they play them and they had the crowd eating from the palm of their hand during every tune. We had to leave Sigma slightly early to go and catch Jack Garratt in the Big Top – another highlight of my weekend with a simply immense vocal and impeccable musical talent it is very easy to see why he was both the Critics Choice and the Sound of 2016. Soon after came on Circa Waves who provided the sunshine we needed with their uplifting riffs and classic indie tunes. They were followed by Wolf Alice, a wonderful band who, as they always do, played a glorious set led by the sensational Ellie Roswell. For our headliner we decided to stick to the Big Top and saw Bastille play what can only be described as a perfect set full of sing alongs; atmospheric melodies; and an encapsulating light show. Saturday was great and it was then time for bed so we were ready for Sunday.

We arrived on the Sunday to slightly better weather and straight away we headed to the Sounds of the Near Future stage to catch Nao’s set. I hadn’t heard of her before but she provided a wonderful start to the day with catchy songs and a wonderful vocal, definitely someone to look out for. Then over to the main stage where we saw Wilkinson who played a dance-filled hour of chart hits, the only downside being an overwhelming hypeman. After Wilkinson we saw Jess Glynne take to the stage who provided one of the sets of the weekend where everyone knew every song she played and did not hold back In letting her know, perfect for Parklife.  Then came another grime sensation, Skepta, who followed up Stormzy’s Saturday performance perfectly with a high energy set representing grime perfectly. Annie Mac had the tea time slot on the main stage and provided an hour of sunshine to everyone who needed it, she always plays Parklife and it is no surprise as she is one of the best in her game. We then moved from the Main Stage back to the Sounds of the Near Future tent to see my set of the weekend, and one of the best shows I have ever seen. Jamie XX took to the stage just as it was getting dark to an incredible cheer, he is one of the most respected DJs in the world currently and his album is a masterpiece. He brought an amazing mix of his own songs, remixes and incredible lights to provide a euphoric 90 minutes to anyone who was lucky enough to witness it. A perfect end to a perfect weekend.  Can I sleep now?


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Review by Jack McCabe (@JackMcCabeIMN)

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