I was particularly excited to attend Parklife in Manchester this year, the line-up looked incredible and considering the recent trauma in Manchester, it's great to see the city is strong, resolute and still a leading authority musically in the UK. Manchester has been through a lot in the last 20 years. It's always had a profound musical background, with the likes of New Order, the Hacienda and Oasis all proud to call it their home city. What many people forget is the influence of break dance culture in the city; the likes of Greg Wilson fused dynamic urban culture with music and kept hip hop alive and well in the North. This passion morphed into great record shops, labels and events - notably The Warehouse Project who are a significant part of the team at Parklife.
I was stunned to see Frank Ocean headlining Sunday night on the main Parklife Stage, his performance oozed class, projecting visual sophistication and maintaining a pitch perfect vocal display throughout his set. Ocean, being one of the biggest stars on the planet, performed to a packed crowd who were capable of singing along to every word; that really says something about Parklife 2017! The crowd watching headliner Stormzy was revealing to me, the level of loyalty to grime was notable. Thousands were there to witness his powerful performance, capturing a new form of punk and keeping the underground alive and well.
Other great artists headlining Sunday were Carl Cox playing at the Warehouse Project stage, Eric Prydz at the Hangar, Dixon at the Palm House, Joseph Capriati at the Elrow Presents Far West, Joe Goddard at the Powered By Utility Studio and very fortunately Damian 'Jr Gong' Marley at the Temple stage, where it was probably the best place to be on Sunday. Marley's performance was on another level of sophistication - a blow away performance that should've been witnessed by all.
Even though there was heavy rain on the Saturday, there was no stopping the good vibes. Anderson .Paak & The Free Internationals were the highlight of the day for many whilst Little Dragon and London Grammar all performed good sets. Chaka Khan's performance was excellent; she's probably got one of the greatest voices on the planet and a great education for a predominately young crowd, who may never have seen her before.
All I saw at Parklife 2017 was a festival full of fun, lovely people enjoying themselves and absolutely proved to me why the UK is one of the best places to be in the world. The unity and opportunity to see such great artists together, in a safe environment, was testament to the work of the promoters and should be applauded.
The stages and the sound systems were fantastic! The Ram Jam stage looked and sounded brilliant, great bass pumping up the jam! The Palm House was serene; it was like being in Ibiza! The Hangar had some awesome visuals and banging sounds. There were old skool lasers in The Warehouse Project set up, and seeing Flying Lotus in the Sounds of The Near Future stage on Sunday, was sublime, a whole new visual and audio experience. Festivals have definitely advanced and are becoming more interesting, catering for a more discerning crowd. The varied food stalls all over the site also added great value to the party!
Other standout included Run The Jewels who completely smashed it! Killer Mike is such a badass emcee and El-P is also a defining artist, their combination really stood out, I was thrilled to see them at the top of their game. Danny Brown had a great set as did Jess Glyne, Mura Masa, Nao, Armand Van Helden, Crazy P, Rag'N'Bone Man, Midland and Sampha. Loyle Carner absolutely nailed his performance and proved UK is certainly coming through big in the hip hop game.
Parklife 2017 was amazing! The vibe, atmosphere and quality were all excellent. The crowd was incredibly diverse and it seems the tide has changed. It makes me realise how significant Jay Z's performance at Glastonbury in 2008 really was. It's testament to Parklife to create such a cool space for progressive, forward thinking music heads, to enable them to see the stars they love and experience precious moments together. Respect!
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