Parklife Weekender 2011

What do you get by crossing Doom, Moodymann, Adam Beyer, Metronomy, DJ Marky, the Crosstown Rebels crew and more with Manchester’s notorious party populous? A great two days out?

Well, almost. Back for a second year of high profile names in Platt Fields, a sizeable expanse of open space a few miles south of the city centre (stretching from the world famous Curry Mile to Fallowfield’s student-dominated streets), Parklife Weekender 2011 should have gone off with a bang. And would have, if said explosion had been louder.


There were, of course, exceptions. Catching almost an hour of a typically melodic, deep but purposeful James Holden was proof enough that in the arenas where approaching the rigs was possible there was great music to be heard, as the Border Community bossman dropped atmospheric breakdowns and rolling prog tech in high quantities. But anyone with an understanding of what a large event’s soundsystem could be like would have to wonder what those confined to the rear of said tent got from watching Drumcode chief Adam Beyer, considering how much fuller the floorspace under canvas got as the Swede took over proceedings.

From where we stood though things sounded heavy, driving, and while it was a festival set there’s no denying the high standard of techno he played, whether in the most acidic seconds of a full on assault or during the minutes dominated by groove fuelled heads down punchiness. It’s just unfortunate the same can’t be said for (MF) Doom, whose performance was almost inaudible, despite the hype around his billing, and the obvious fact that in a field full of twenty-somethings, with a decent chunk of those still studying, such an act will have people queuing for a glance, meaning leaving those close to the back with seemingly no additional speakers is a really bad idea.

It’s never a great thing to focus on the negatives, so now we’ve made clear the point that when watching music it’s important to hear (not least when the artist uses lyrics) let’s move on to more positive moments. Like Metronomy’s stunning Sunday night show, a veritable ray of electronic indie sunshine that nearly polished off a day in which Manchester’s infamous weather front reared its relentlessly rainy head.

Not that anyone in attendance seemed to care, such was the tangible (not to mention impressive) desire to party through the storm. And no review would be complete without also nodding to Hercules & Love Affair’s spellbinding headline slot on Saturday night, a wonderfully well placed booking that captivated the crowd with camp New York disco and early house stylings, while DJ Shadow wasn’t bad either… All in all then, not bad, though more attention to detail would be welcome.