The Parklife Weekender 2011

Posted on 16 June 2011 by Glenn Tucker


If I was at all superstitious or had any belief in warnings, signals or omens I might have paid attention to the series of events leading up to my experience at Manchester’s Parklife festival.

How far back I go is irrelevant as I could start with any disaster in the last few weeks but to save your ears and eyes reading mindless drivel I will start with Saturday morning. Having made a well informed decision to leave the car in Birmingham and sack off overpriced trains we booked the ever classy Mega bus as our means of transport to Manchester and back.

A surprisingly early night for a Friday meant we were up and raring to go at 6am on Saturday morning. Being ever organised, or so I thought, we arrived at Digbeth coach station with 20 minutes to spare only to realise our coach left from the other side of Birmingham…

We made it nevertheless and arrived safe and sound in Manchester and passed the time till the festival gates opened at 1 pm. It was at this moment that the heavens also opened, the cold heavens, and some pretty hefty hail started to hammer down on top of us. This was not a great start but better for us who had raincoats than for the guy behind us in a t-shirt and with a bald head. I can still here is screams in my sleep now.

Undeterred, we marched on to the artists bar hoping to catch a glimpse of a few famous faces but finding only three very friendly but bored bar staff and the women in charge of artists liaison whose phone happened to fall into a bucket of water and ice as we arrived leaving her with no way to stay in contact with any of the artists.

With misfortune and hard luck following us everywhere we went it was high time we took this out to the party goers in the various arenas to get an idea of what people thought of Parklife 2011 and how they were coping with the hail and rain.

I have to say the response was more upbeat and enthusiastic than I could have imagined and the general British public does not seem to let any amount of foul weather dampen their spirits or get in the way of having a good time.

Most people we spoke to about who they were here to see reeled of the big names but a couple mentioned some great acts such as Riot Jazz and Chad Valley who provided both diverse and interesting sounds in their sets. For the early part of the day we did manage to find some diversity among many of the tents with a mix of wireless acts that could only be reached by crawling through a series of tunnels, to a beat box and block beat dancer combos.

The experience was starting to pick up and the sun even made a guest appearance to dry us all out.

As the evening approached and we and some newly found friends went in search of some Dub step or Drum n Bass we found many of the dance tents sounding all too similar and the ability to hold a decent conversation inside the tents meant the music was just not loud enough.

It was as these niggles began to become more and more obvious but also as we had just accepted them and started to get on with having a party that the lights came on and the crowds started to disperse to various after parties… at 11pm

It was also at this point that we met a few disgruntled locals who had bought Saturday and Sunday tickets purely because they lived closed by and could nip back home for a snack if they wanted too, only to find out that once you were in there was no exit and re-entry meaning you were forced to live off whatever was on offer within the arena.

Having to leave the site so early also knocked the small amount of enthusiasm that I had left and the thought of trekking back into Manchester for the sake of a few more hours dancing did not make any sense.

Sunday began with a hot, strong cup of coffee as we watched someone’s house and business burn down in the pouring rain and did not seem to pick up much from there onwards. By the time the gates opened at 1:30 pm the fields were drenched and a trickle of people started to enter the site.

With the no re-entry rule the early part of the day was quiet although a few die hard revelers carried on dancing, maybe just to keep warm. As the day drew to a close the site started to fill up but the rain carried on falling and we decided it was about time to get home and dry. Although we would have loved to stay on and reading comments and other views of the festival it seemed like the evening session really picked up we were at the mercy of public transport and our bus back to Birmingham was due.

Overall the atmosphere was good and some big names attracted some upbeat crowds but as the festival seemed so heavily based on the dance genre it just did not carry on long enough. As it is meant to be a city festival it would have been good to see some diversity in the music that might represent the wide range of styles and music genres that a city like Manchester has to offer.


Glenn Tucker