Saturday belongs to Jamie xx. Throughout a perfectly-crafted set, ‘Girl’, ‘Gosh’ and ‘Sleep Sound’ - along with ‘Loud Places’ and the older percussive house gem ‘Far Nearer’ pack the tent out, one over-excited reveller opting to climb the tent’s rigging.
Earlier, Everything Everything – dressed in matching red suits - belt through new material, current single ‘Regret’ already reaching anthemic status. Disclosure’s graduation to main stage headliners comes with a smattering of new material from imminent second album ‘Caracal’, along with the requisite host of upcoming vocal talents. ‘White Noise’, ‘F For You’ and ‘You & Me’ elicit as incredible a response as expected, but it’s Guy and Howard’s new creations which stand out, as they tease, “Parklife, we’ve got some surprises for you”. Lion Babe’s Jillian Hervey comes first, perfectly complimenting the slinky synths of ‘Hourglass’ as she struts across the stage. London-based future-R&B vocalist Nao soon follows, her vocals and onstage presence not dissimilar to ‘White Noise’ guest Aluna Francis, before Kwabs’ tones command the crowd from a raised platform. The arrival of American jazz legend Gregory Porter for a faultless rendition of current single and collab ‘Holding On’ mesmerises the crowd, fusing two musical worlds together seamlessly. After a brief stage leave, ‘Help Me Lose My Mind’ and ‘Latch’ – the latter dedicated to Sam Smith who’s just recovered from vocal surgery – sees friends on shoulders in a moment of hysteria.
On Sunday Jimmy Edgar and Machinedrum - together known as J.E.T.S - pump out thumping techno as green inflatable aliens and neon balloons are slung around in the air; Ben UFO’s back-to-back set with Pearson Sound continuing the bass-heavy electronic onslaught. US-based Sango, sporting a Manchester City sports jacket, brings hip-hop and trap-influenced bubbling synths and bass beats in a tucked away Greek coliseum-like vicinity; even the security guards are bouncing along as they make their way through the crowd amidst a sparse edit of Skepta’s ‘That’s Not Me’ and a remix of Drake’s ‘Through The 6’. Chet Faker, sporting a topknot, packs out the stage with his synth-laden sound. Alone at first, he intricately and passionately delivers electronic instrumentals, before being joined by a guitarist and drummer. Encouraging us to “use those muscles” before ‘No Diggity’, a sea of phones are hoisted to record the cover, as the crowd’s vocal muscles flex while singing along to ‘Drop The Game’.
Bristol duo Blonde bring their summery house anthems ‘Foolish’, ‘All Cried Out’ and ‘I Loved You’ as part of a new live show, wheeling out guest vocalists. Todd Terje, with his live band The Olsens, who alternate between saxophone, flute, bongo drum, guitar and keyboard, build into their funky set with zooming laser synths. ‘Delorean Dynamite’ and set closer ‘Inspector Norse’ get the crowd moving as the funky bass line kicks in; one Terje fan who’s celebrating a birthday screams “this is the best day of my life” while his friend, clearly intoxicated, jokes, “is this Lady GaGa?” Jungle’s well-deserved transition to the main stage sees them play to a massive crowd, the summery weather perfect for their retro sound as the seven-piece perform hits ‘Julia’ and ‘The Heat’ just as the sun beams down. Hudson Mohawke walks onstage with a new live set up, bringing out Redinho on keyboards and Two Door Cinema Club’s Ben Thompson on drums. Drawing on material from new album ‘Lantern’ and his and Lunice’s collaborative project, TNGHT’s biggest hits, intense bass and red strobes match the maximalist electronica of ‘Acrylics’ and ‘Higher Ground’, sending the crowd into mass hysteria.
An hour later, FKA twigs, visible only through a cloud of smoke, leaves thousands in awe, as her hauntingly ethereal performance remains compelling from start to finish. Easily the largest crowd of the day, there’s a ritualistic sense to her set as she flows through her debut album ‘LP1’ and new material from her imminent third EP. With an incredible vocal from the off, twigs is joined by a three-piece band who delicately tap their synth pads respectively, producing the intense, almost apocalyptic trip-hop beats of ‘Water Me’, ‘Number’ and ‘Papi Pacify’. Effortlessly charismatic, the entire crowd’s eyes are transfixed on her throughout the hour-long set, her enigmatic presence is made even more likeable when she speaks, sweetly and humbly. “It’s great to be back in England,” she delights, “I just got back a week ago.” Closing with a faultless rendition of ‘Two Weeks’ and then ‘How’s That’, it’s evident that Parklife belongs to FKA twigs.
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