WRITTEN BY JAMES: After an insane day of raving at Heaton Park on the Saturday, we returned early on the Sunday morning for the second day of the Parklife Weekender 2013. Today, as part of the festival’s Social Media Team, we headed down to the press section within the artists village, for a quick run down of the day’s itinerary and left for the main site with a large wooden Parklife prop in our hands!
As we reached the top of the main hill in front of the huge main stage, it dawned on us how much more relaxed, friendly and chilled the day was already becoming. People seemed simply happier to be there, more were joining in on the daft festival games, the sumo wrestling and the “Wrong Pong” being our highlights, and we instantly felt more at home.
We mooched around the gorgeous festival grounds, soaking in the atmosphere, the sights and the sun before heading over to see a DMM favourite, Gorgon City at the Ape Arena. Surprisingly for 1pm, the huge tent was already busy and not just with people standing around doing the early-evening-2-step we see so often on a club night but… actually dancing!
As members of the Social Media Team, we had access all areas passes so we sneaked backstage and checked out the view from the the other side. Wow… The actual tent was only 2/3 full but seeing hundreds (if not thousands) of faces, all looking in your direction (ish) and bouncing away made us quite humbled, being lucky enough to experience the duo’s awesome, bassy house music from the stage itself, especially when they dropped their own track, “Real” featuring the gorgeous vocals of Yasmin, much to the crowd’s delight.
Back to the sun, this time to try and catch as many people as possible with our brilliant, pink and blue Parklife sign on camera. Accompanied by our great friends Matt and OB, we talked to and snapped a huge variety of festival-lovers, who were all eager to join in. Although Spamhead and myself are clearly a couple, we both joked how much fun this would be for single mates as it’s a great excuse to chat-up anyone that catches your eye, whilst still doing your job!
After our great lunch / dinner, courtesy of the Social Media Team, Spam and I trotted over the hill to the far corner, home of the ridiculous and unique, Ram Jam Stage. Due to it’s awesome location, the area in front of the stage was the perfect place to enjoy a true festival experience in the baking sun-trap. With Liverpool DJ, Melé, commanding the decks, we tried our hardest to find our way back-stage.
Possibly the hardest task of the weekend as the whole area was swarming with ravers, bouncing to his every beat. After a good half an hour, we sneaked through one of the bars to the rear of the metal, ramshackled hut, just as DJ EZ + Majestic were warming up their set. We spoke to the lovely stage manager who helped us out in a really professional and friendly way, waited a minute then climbed up on stage.
With the immense, glorious sunshine, thousands of crazy revellers looking our way and inflatable balls bouncing everywhere; we were simply astonished at how different the atmosphere was in comparison to the clubs, warehouses and arenas that we more accustomed to. Before the weekend, when we saw that Toddla T had been switched for DJ EZ, we did a bit of homework and were simply shocked at how entertaining the garage DJ could be. How we had not heard much about him previously, we do not know as the guy is sheer quality and produced one of the best Boiler Room sets we’ve both seen, instantly making us both fans.
Standing on stage was in one word, memorable. Thousands obeying every drop from DJ EZ and every word from the on-stage MC, Majestic made for a new experience for both Spam and I. I’m not usually a fan of MC’s, unless they are really, really good and Majestic had the crowd in the palm of his hands, earning a huge amount of respect from us both.
As Majestic left the stage, Spam quickly asked for a cheeky photo with the Parklife sign, to which he happily obliged with a huge smile. Like a hawk, my partner in crime noticed the young and talented Monki sneaking by, who again was more than happy to be involved with our photo duties. DJ EZ was soon to follow and after being swarmed by people he again was enthusiastic and really friendly. The whole 15 minutes was really humbling, huge acts taking time off to join in and making our job so enjoyable!
Keeping the bar high, Zinc took to the stage showcasing his many years of DJing at the heart and soul of the drum and bass scene. The crowd were still bouncing, the sun still shining and the atmosphere staying as ecstatic as ever.
Quickly nipping back to base in the social media hut, we charged our phones, uploaded some photos and then met Ed from Flagtime Films. One of the coolest things about being on this side of the industry is being able to meet like-minded, enthusiastic, passionate and talented people and Ed was certainly all of these. Purely for fun, he recommended that we do a sneaky intro to this review (above) whilst commandeering one of the many golf buggies that scurried about the site all day. A huge reason to volunteer for opportunities like this and one of the reasons we love being involved, is precisely this. Meeting cool people, doing random but fun things and making some real good friends on the way.
With a Member of the Order of the British Empire headlining our stage, we could hardly miss out, could we? So we raced around the site and to the top of the Ram Jam stage to witness our first large-scale reggae set and who better to provide it than the great Sir David Rodigan. Keeping the spirits high in our corner of the festival, the legendary DJ entertained all generations of music lovers, with generations worth of music ranging from old-school reggae to 90′s jungle, with Jay-Z and Kanye West’s Niggas in Paris, casually thrown in the mix.
Having this once in a lifetime opportunity, we took as many photos and videos as we could and the vastly experienced (we won’t mention a gentleman’s age) entertainer jumped around behind, and in front of, the decks like a spring chicken, needing towels on stage as he partied harder than some of the crowd!
My highlight, probably of the whole weekend, was Sir Rodigan dropping, “You Don’t Love Me (No, No, No)”, with the crowd singing the chorus a capella.
After a quick recharge back at base, we grabbed a beer in the beautiful VIP area ready for our good friends Kinyume to take over the decks. Closing off our night with their usual selection of bass-heavy house music in such a breathtaking environment was truly special and to see how the local lads have grown since we first saw them last year made us really proud to be their friends, keeping the VIP’s raving until dark fell.
I cannot express how much I enjoyed the whole experience. I was previously unsure as we normally come to jump around in the crowd and write up the review from the middle of it but at the conclusion of one of my favourite weekends of all time, the chance to be a part of it has really changed my perception on the whole industry. I’d like to thank Oli, Maddie and the rest of the Parklife team for allowing me to do so and SpamellaB for persuading me in the first place. Something I cannot recommend more for 2014..