Music has always been a prominent aspect of my life.
I played the piano at a very young age and composed songs and sang along to them. I initially got introduced to techno/house music (and electronic music in general) back in the early 2000s, when my brother went to London for university. I remember getting really excited over his Creamfields festival stories back in the day.
Being brought up in Amman made it a bit difficult to keep up with electronic music (or EDM as they now call it), as everyone listened to pop, hip hop and RnB. Don’t get me wrong, I loved those genres too, but techno and house music were buzzing and new to me. That’s besides the fact that they really make me want to dance!
Finally when I graduated from high school 5 years later, I followed in my brother’s footsteps and my friends and I would generally hang out in West London, where commercial house/dance music was a hit. I had much more access to the scene but I still wanted more. Soon enough I started going to Fabric and warehouse venues in south and east London where they played underground techno music. The outings were grungier and less pricy and I realized they fit my style more.
Then came the festivals.
I first heard about Parklife Weekender from a good friend of mine. Located in Heaton Park in Manchester and accommodating around 70,000 people per day (over 2 days) it remains one of the biggest festivals I’ve ever been to (along with Sonar in Barcelona) in comparison to other mini festivals I’ve been to in England, Berlin, Ibiza and Lebanon.
We flew in for the festival and fell in love with Manchester instantly - it's basically a mini London with young, fashion-driven and friendly people. Watching thousands of youngsters marching into the park and waiting in line alone, gets your adrenaline bouncing off the walls, to say the least. The feeling of being with such a huge amount of people who are on the same wavelength and are there for the same purpose is something immeasurable. My first time at Parklife was last year.
Aside from having to put up with the occasional heavy rainfall and the intense muddy conditions (which actually somehow adds to the whole vibe), Parklife 2014 was an awesome experience. Huge colorful tents, stages, and installations were set up all over Heaton Park where DJs and artists performed simultaneously. Now how about that stage (a.k.a 'The Temple')?
English people tend to go all out with festival attire.
Although monochrome was so in last year, they wore lots of colors, floral prints and accessories, as well as loads of makeup, punk hairstyles and headpieces. They also came prepared for the schizo weather conditions: every single person, male and female wore raincoats and Wellington boots. I stuck to floral prints and headpieces (all from Topshop) and pink Wellies of course!
This year the weather was much better. It was sunnier and only drizzled once for a short period.
In terms of fashion, people went all out with the colors again but since it was pretty much dry, there were fewer raincoats and more crop tops, and fewer Wellington boots and more trainers.
I also noticed a lot of 90s fashion trends this year; 90s air max trainers, psychedelic t-shirts, chokers, crop tops, buns, punk hairstyles, face stickers and glitter: I fit right in as I had my buns, seapunk tee and emoji purse. On the second day, I wore a sound activated LED screen t-shirt, matched with a pair of LED glasses, and I was a major hit! Everyone was tripping on the screen and wanted to take pictures with me ☺
As Snoop Dogg, Rudimental and Katy B took over the main stage back in 2014, we resorted to the more housey and techy acts including Dixon and Ame, Tale of Us, Joy Orbison, Julio Bashmore, Huxley, Art Department, Damian Lazarus and many more. My 2 favorites were Maceo Plex who played tech-house and techno sounds and the charismatic Carl Cox who smashed some techno and acidy beats.
Although we’d been there and done that, this year was as thrilling as the previous one. Entering the park only to head straight to "The Temple” where the Martinez Brothers were playing some pumping house tunes (though not my favorite their music was the perfect way to start the day) was seriously incredible.
Right after we sprinted towards James Blake’s tent. Watching him live was one of most emotional experiences I’ve had - the mixture of his strong unique voice and trippy experimental sounds really hits the spot.
My favorite performances at Parklife 2015 were Talaboman, Adam Beyer and Caribou. I knew Talaboman (John Talabot b2b Axel Boman) would nail it (with their trippy house/techno beats), as I’ve seen them last year at Sonar, and I avidly follow Beyer’s hard techno music which never fails to impress. Though I’m a huge fan, Caribou’s eerie sounds and dance moves surprised me and pumped the crowd like crazy.
Another interesting performance was Sasha b2b Joris Voorn who played an interesting combo of airy melodic sounds and deeper beats. FKA Twigs was amazing (her voice is as good live and she busted some interesting dance moves) although I expected more in terms of stage props and her outfit.
Just thinking about both my experiences at Parklife makes we want to go back right now and relive the blissful moments. I assure you that I’ll be going to Parklife Weekender 2016 - it’s becoming a ritual amongst my group of friends and the good vibes are totally worth flying in for the festival. You really get the true festival ambiance and experience and I urge all festivalgoers to attend next year. And for those who haven’t been to Manchester it is much cheaper and cozier than London and it’s only 2 hours by train! Not to mention that the shopping there is really funky and eccentric.
Here are two sets I recommend from Parklife this year, enjoy.