September 13, 2021
Heaton Park, ManchesterA young crowd – who could make even twentysomethings feel fossilised – gleefully accepted their city’s rave mantle, losing it to Megan Thee Stallion, Bicep and more
Parklife festival review – proof that Manchester is still mad fer it
Hosting 80,000 rain-resistant punters each day, Parklife festival encapsulates the energy of Manchester as an enclave of rave. This year’s edition boasts one of the UK’s most ambitious lineups, mixing blockbuster international acts such as Burna Boy and Megan Thee Stallion with domestic talent in the form of Dave, the soulful sounds of Celeste, on-the-rise acts such as Shygirl and pop favourites Mabel. The lifeblood of the festival, though, is arguably dance music, with the BPM of stages including The Valley – which has excellent production values, modelled like a block of flats with a fake ad billboard for dystopian food gels declaring “food is boring” – or The Temple soaring throughout each of the two days for a baby-faced, happy crowd.
The prospect of being sandwiched between hordes of drug-enhanced teenagers could have been enough to trigger an existential crisis, but while even 27-year-olds could feel like fossils here, the bracing euphoria of Manchester’s premier music event returning after a year away is palpable. The nation watched as Andy Burnham passionately battled for more money as the city bore the brunt of the Covid-19 tier system; disgruntled Mancunians spent more of the last 18 months living under restrictions than London, prompting graffiti around the city declaring: “The North is not a petri dish.”
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