Parklife 2010 – 17 Acts In 18 Photos

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Parklife is one of life’s musical guilty pleasures, perhaps the guiltiest.  It’s like a one day adventure into another world, somewhere I’d never normally go and I always enjoy it, a lot more than most photographers who complain about it year-on-year, and yet still put their hand up to cover it.  There is a secret to photographing it and it’s to keep on the move; it’s not to stand around near the front of a stage in a group, with loads of camera gear around your neck and in utility belt contraptions around your waist, all those big, shiny white lenses glistening in the sun, drawing in all the punters who demand that their photo be taken.  Wear black, look non-conspicuous, be more ninja like. Try and keep a metal barrier between you and them as much as possible.

The main highlight of the day is Missy Elliott and it’s a surprise to find that I am just about the only person who thinks so, with most of the reviews, tweets and Facebook comments being fairly damning.  Getting to the front of the Riverstage, however, is one of the day’s most unpleasant experiences, with the arena full-to-bursting, easily way over capacity, and there’s far too many sweaty, shirtless punters to negotiate on the way down the hill.  Unsurprisingly the stage does eventually get closed off and, much like at Splendour, when entry to the main stage was closed before Florence And The Machine, you have to question the number of tickets sold versus the capacity of the largest stage at the festival.  Selling 23,000 tickets doesn’t make much sense if only 9,000 or so can see the festival’s main acts.

But it’s a pure showbiz spectacle; it makes a big change from my typical Saturday nights at toilet circuit venues, watching musicians wearing jeans and faded black t-shirts whilst they stare at their feet for the 30 minutes they’re on stage.  Sure there’s far to much inane chat and not enough actual songs/singing/rapping, especially considering that despite being one of the festival’s drawcards she’s only been given 45 minutes and only plays a handful of songs in her allotted time, but when it all comes together it’s an extremely impressive performance.  Even after being ejected from the photo pit and watching from the side of hill it’s an impressive sight, although from this vantage point and this angle it’s much more about the people watching rather than onstage R’n’B superstar herself.  But then again, the people watching is at least half the fun of Parklife and whilst it’s a one day adventure into another world, one day a year is enough.  I’ll see you all again in 2011.

More photos from the day are on The Vine.

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