Parklife 2019: The Report

Parklife isn’t for everyone, but if you’re up for a high-octane and electro-fuelled rave come rain or shine then it’s the place to be

Feature by Jordan Foster | 20 Jun 2019

In complete contrast to last year’s searing hot edition, Parklife 2019 is the wettest in memory from the off. A relentless downpour saturates Heaton Park – but a typically youthful crowd don’t care, and the bubbling atmosphere isn’t dampened. That must be largely due to a line-up that is yet again crammed with a cohesive yet eclectic selection of ascending artists.

George FitzGerald is one of those artists, steadily climbing through the ranks with pop-tinged electronica. But while his set is bustling with fans seeking refuge from the downpour, most appear unmoved by the nuanced ripples of arpeggios and twinkling earworm melodies. The Watford-born producer’s set is engaging throughout, but would undoubtedly resonate stronger at some of the more niche, left-field events on his horizon.

While talk of the hotly anticipated FISHER set is overheard everywhere, it’s Slowthai who truly whips up a storm with his searing brand of politically-charged hip-hop. 'Fuck Theresa', he has the audience chanting in tandem with him before dragging a star-struck raver on the catwalk with him.

Saturday’s headliner slot is a Glastonbury-level clash conundrum. Chase & Status and Mark Ronson (in Cardi B’s absence) are bound to attract the masses, while Eric Prydz and a Disclosure DJ set present tempting carefree-dance options. But the enlightened and intricate electro-pop of Christine and the Queens is the preferred choice.

We are in a tiny minority at Parklife though, with only a few layers of fans in attendance. You’d suspect this is a comedown for the French pop star who only weeks ago headlined a date at London's All Points East, but luckily no punches are pulled. There isn't a toe out of place from the fleet of dancers on stage in an evocative show which blurs the lines between theatre and live music.

Sunday’s vibe is less explosive in all corners of the festival – no doubt the continuing rain is taking its toll, and the 'back to work again next morning' feeling probably plays its part – but JPEGMAFIA does an exceptional job at justifying his 'one to watch' status. Whilst boasting shades of influence of Kendrick Lamar and Childish Gambino, his lo-fi brand is staunchly original. Between glitchy cuts with haywire beats, tracks like 1539 N. Calvert and I Cannot Fucking Wait Until Morrissey Dies are potent, political and shot through with humour.

Jungle bring the feel-good factor with their host of onstage performers and a velvet-smooth set. Whilst their formula may be style-over-substance and samey throughout, the grooves behind such bangers as Julia and Cherry are hard to dislike.

There’s no doubt that Parklife is flirting ever closer to the mainstream, with such inclusions as macho-pop powerhouse George Ezra and the chart-ruffling Khalid. But that’s no issue when the nearly-decade old festival’s alternate offering is just as fruitful. Parklife isn’t for everyone, but if you’re up for a high-octane and electro-fuelled rave come rain or shine then it’s the place to be.

Parklife festival took place in Heaton Park, Manchester, 8-9 Jun