Parklife suffers from noise issues on day one

Parklife Festival 2011 review

published: Mon 20th Jun 2011

around the festival site

Saturday 11th to Sunday 12th June 2011
Platts Field Park, Manchester, England MAP
£58.50 for weekend - SOLD OUT, day tickets £35 for either day
daily capacity: 15000
last updated: Tue 24th May 2011

A beautiful Saturday afternoon in Manchester, and most of the student village of Fallowfield were heading to the local Platt Fields Park to the fledgling festival Parklife. The sun, the atmosphere, and the prospect of seeing New York comic book hip hop legend MF Doom had my expectations perhaps unrealistically high as I entered the Now Wave tent. And this made my disappointment even harder to swallow.

Doom
Opening with 'Accordion', the shortcomings of the act were instantly recognisable. This is a song that would welcome some live instrumentation, as the accordion melody is consistent, and not just a collection of samples. For this show, however, Doom just set the record playing and performed the vocals over the top.

A little disappointing, but the feeling would have passed if there were any redeeming features. The fact that it was impossible to hear any of the lyrics, and just as difficult to hear any of the intricacies of the beats, reduced the spectacle to that of watching a man in a mask mumbling over a fuzzy bass line. To be fair to the man, he was calling to have it turned up the whole way through, but with his request denied this made the whole experience that much more awkward.

This issue with volume, unfortunately, tainted the entire day. The Hospitality tent was showcasing some of the biggest names in liquid drum and bass out there, but there is literally no point in seeing them if you can hear the crowd talking over the bass. The only conceivable reason anyone would pay such high prices to see dance acts like this is to hear them on a decent sound system, and hear them loud.

Even the likes of Kelis suffered from this problem. The driving house beat of her new album made many of her songs indistinguishable; there was just a relentless thud… thud.. thud… while her voice struggled to be audible over the top.

Kelis
Certain songs came off well, though, such as her reggae influenced 'Trick Me', which had the crowd dancing right to the back. But it was the atmosphere that saved these songs, not what could be heard. Kelis is obviously an excellent performer, and a talented singer with a good cache of crowd pleasers to play out, but the setting really didn't do her justice.

Modeselektor, the German electronic outfit and headliners of the Chibuku Presents… stage, were the only really enjoyable act on Saturday. The volume was at an acceptable level in this tent (though it still should have been louder!) and the driving glitchy techno beat helped to drown out the sound of talking, or of other tents nearby. The music was chaotic and unrelenting, and the visuals disorientating, making for an intense ninety minutes of furious dancing.

This was a good ending to what had been a terrible day. The quietness was no doubt due to the fact that the park is in a residential area, and that the tents were so close together. But this sacrificing of quality just so they could cram as many artists as possible into an area that is walking distance from Manchester's student population, makes the organiser's priority seem all too clear: they wanted to sell a lot of tickets.

around the festival site
review by: Robert Knowles

photos by: Matej Krchnavy

Saturday 11th to Sunday 12th June 2011
Platts Field Park, Manchester, England MAP
£58.50 for weekend - SOLD OUT, day tickets £35 for either day
daily capacity: 15000
last updated: Tue 24th May 2011


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