It’s hard to shake the feeling that tonight’s Bicep live show at Mayfield Depot is a dry run for where the Warehouse Project might be heading next year. It’s no coincidence that the duo’s live debut is being promoted by both WHP — who are in need of a new home next year — and MIF. MIF is, for the uninitiated, the Manchester International Festival, a bi-annual city centre soiree which isn’t happening until next year, with tonight’s show billed as something of a rave-centric amuse bouche.
Bicep, tonight’s main course, don’t really need an introduction; they’ve arguably soundtracked a generation of shitty student house parties. Their debut album topped many of last year’s end-of-year lists and tonight they’re debuting their new live show in Manchester for the first time. It’s easily a sellout (well, it’s not really, as Mayfield Depot could easily house a small city). That’s actually the most striking thing about this often overlooked leviathan of a venue. The old train station, as it’s known to the locals, has been dormant for quite a few years until recently, where it’s dusted down every so often for the odd arty endeavour from the likes of Massive Attack, or as a makeshift food hall for a street food event. The sprawling space is the exact opposite of The Warehouse Project’s current home, Store Street. There’s plenty of space to mooch around, in fact, there’s so much mooching space you could feasibly get lost and end up in Carlisle on a mad one.
It’s bang on 11:45pm as Bicep take to the stage, facing each other across a large table housing a glowing sea of machines. If you’ve seen the duo DJ before you’ll know they don’t exactly go bonkers on stage. Instead, they let the music do the talking, standing almost motionless nodding along to the wide angled soundscapes of their opening hitters, including the duo’s epic remix of Isaac Turner’s ‘Higher Level’. Swaying gently amongst a sea towering LED screens, the Northern Irish duo has the crowd in the palm of their hands as they unleash fan favourite ‘Just’, teasing the track’s now iconic riff over and over again before its long-awaited breakbeat kick drum rears its head; bathed in blue light, like a scene from Cocoon, it draws out a joyous roar from the crowd, one of many throughout the night.
The duo weaves through their debut album’s best bits with aplomb, including the dense, trippy rave fog of ‘Glue’ and which then segues neatly into ‘Opal’, as the duo stretches its mesmerising melody to almost breaking point. For us, it’s when the duo deviates from their usual four-on-the-floor fare that the magic really happens. The final goodbye comes in the form of ‘Aura’ which is sped up and then fed through the duo’s machines coming out as a bonafide future rave classic. Before our eyes, the track’s main hook is dancing along on a sea on lasers that are strafing the crowd in front. It’s a quite a finish, so much so as we leave, one punter declares, ‘that was the best three minutes of my life’. While he may have peaked way too early — it’s hard to argue with his critique of tonight’s show, which proves to be an excellent dry run for what might be coming in 2019 in Manchester.
The German electro queen will be performing at the Mission Control stage in the early hour of Sunday morning, with her second studio album out next month via Ninja Tune, this will almost certainly the only chance you’ll ever see the German playing in leafy Cheshire. Expect plenty of electro grit.
Saturday, 10:15pm, Orbit stage
Booka Shade will be making their Bluedot festival debut on Saturday night. Having just released their excellent ‘Cut The Strings’ album, which saw the famed German live act focussing on melody over atmosphere, Arno and Walter will be performing their well-honed live show on Saturday night.
Saturday, 5:00pm, Nebula stage
We’ve been fans of Speakman Sound since hearing the brother’s debut single ‘Pangea’ last year. Brothers Todd and Guy are the brains behind Speakman Sound, and their sound has been largely inspired by their father, who apparently is a well-known guitarist in the world of psychedelic music, and it kinda shows. The duo will be playing at the Nebula stage on Saturday evening at 5:00pm. Expect plenty of festival bangers.
Sunday, 6:20pm, Orbit Stage
Leeds-based four-piece Vessels will be making their Bluedot debut on Sunday evening and we’ve been fans of the four-piece ever since we heard the group’s muscular, ‘Radiart’. A hearty cut of dystopian techno that’s been cross-pollinated with band’s penchant for playing live — expect more of the same when they play live on Sunday evening at the Orbit stage.
Sunday, 7:50pm, Orbit stage
George Fitzgerald will be performing live on Sunday evening at the Orbit stage, where he will be playing tracks from his critically acclaimed 2010 debut, ‘Fading Love’, and his more recent 2018 full-length, ‘All That Must Be’. Expect pop house vibes from 7:50pm on Sunday night.
Friday, 11:00pm, Orbit stage
Ahead of the release of music documentary, ‘The Man From UNKLE’, James Lavelle will be making a rare festival performance in the UK under his highly revered UNKLE alias. While the music today released under the banner of UNKLE is very different from the old UNKLE material — the spirit is still the same. Don’t miss Lavelle’s Bluedot debut on Friday evening at the Orbit stage.
7The Chemical Brothers
Sunday, 9:20pm, Lovell Stage
Headlining Sunday night is arguably the UK most successful dance duo, The Chemical Brothers. The duo haven’t released any new material since 2015’s ‘Born In The Echoes’ but the duo did reveal that work on their 9th studio had begun earlier this year — might we hear something new on Sunday night? We sure hope so.
8Blue Planet In Concert with the Halle Orchestra
Thursday, 9:00pm, Lovell stage
The opening night of this year’s Bluedot will see the Halle Orchestra performing live music to footage from the BBC’s revered nature series. Blue Planet. The Halle will be soundtracking footage from the original 2001 series, which is narrated by Sir David Attenborough. This promises to be the perfect start to 2018’s Bluedot festival.
Saturday, 10:00pm, Mission
Leeds legend Ralph Lawson will be one of the many highlights of Saturday’s offering, with the 20:20 Vision boss playing for two hours on Saturday night. Expect plenty of tribal rhythms from the Back To Basics resident.
1oHuman After All: A Tribute To Daft Punk
Sunday, 12:00am, Nebula stage
Closing out the Nebula stage in the early hours of Monday morning will be Human After All, a Daft Punk tribute act and we can’t think of a better way to finish off this year’s Bluedot festival.
It’s official! Parklife 2018 has officially sold out with just one week to go until the two-day festival takes place at Heaton Park in Manchester. This year’s festival promises to be the biggest yet with the likes of Liam Gallagher, Justice, The XX all headlining the festival.
This year’s festival will also feature an all-new VIP experience, with several new stages including a recreation of Sankeys main room where they’ve even managed to get the room’s legendary Phase One sound system back for that truly authentic Sankeys experience.
Here, we choose 10 acts you can’t afford to miss at this weekend’s Parklife.
Sunday, The Hangar
Parisian duo Justice are no strangers to Manchester’s Parklife having headlined the festival in 2012 when it was located at Plattfields. The French electro duo will be bringing their most complex live setup to date to the festival’s Hangar Stage on Sunday evening. Expect a career-spanning setlist with tracks from their iconic albums, including ‘Cross’, ‘Audio Video Disco’ and ‘Woman’. Lookout for the duo’s new live album ‘Woman Worldwide’, which is set to drop August 24 via Ed Banger Records.
Saturday, The Palm House — The Black Madonna Presents: We Still Believe
You get a real sense that everyone is rooting for Peggy Gou. The Southern Korean-born, Berlin-based producer and DJ has had an incredible 2018 so far racking up countless shows, fronting the cover of Mixmag and she still managed to find time to release cuts on both Ninja Tunes and Phonica White. You can catch Gou between a Jackmaster/Mall Grab sandwich on Saturday at The Palm House stage, which is being hosted by The Black Madonna.
Saturday, The Hanger Presents Pryda
Eric Prydz has been given the honour of curating his own line-up for this year’s Parklife and he’s bringing the big guns including Kolsch, Green Velvet and his protege Christoph along for the ride. While it won’t be his latest HOLO show — you should expect some over-the-top stage production for the Swede’s headline set on Saturday evening.
Liam Gallagher returning to the very place where Oasis played their final ever gig which is a massive coup for Parklife. As a proud Manchester-based blog we can’t wait to see Liam strutting his stuff on home soil once again. Expect a massive crowd for his performance as he will be closing out the main stage on Sunday evening.
Saturday, Sounds of The Near Future
Having just released his excellent new album ‘Singularity’, his first since 2013, techno auteur Jon Hopkins latest long-play sees the Barcelona-based producer effortlessly flicking between acid house and ambient bliss. Hopkin’s will be performing his new live show on Saturday at the Sounds of The Near Future stage.
Saturday, The Temple Circoloco & Palm House
Jackmaster’s sets at Parklife have become the stuff of legend — so it’ll come as no surprise that that Glaswegian selector will be spinning twice on Saturday at both The Palm House stage and then the outdoor The Temple Circoloco stage, which should mean you’ll get two contrasting sets from the versatile Numbers boss.
Saturday, The Temple Circoloco & The Hanger
Local heroes Solardo will be representing Manchester twice at this year’s Parklife, and on different days too. The tech-house likely lads will be spinning on Saturday at outdoor Temple Circoloco stage and then again at the Hangar stage on Sunday. With an army of bombs from their burgeoning Sola Records, both sets promise to be unmissable.
8The Black Madonna
Sunday, The Palms House — The Black Madonna Presents: We Still Believe
The Black Madonna will be hosting her own stage at this year’s festival and will be handing debuts to Peggy Gou and Miss Honey Dijon. The US selector has become one of the most in-demand DJs in the recent years and is currently producing her debut album between shows. Expect an eclectic set from the Marea Stamper on Saturday as she hosts her We Still Believe stage.
Sunday, The Valley stage
Denis Sulta might have become something of an electronic meme thanks to his use of classic trance tracks but the Scottish selector is so much more than those viral videos. Expect house, disco oddities and the odd trance curveball when the Scottish selector plays on Sunday at the Valley stage.
Saturday, Sounds of The Near Future
Having released arguably last year’s best albums, Northern Irish duo Bicep will be performing their magnum opus live on Saturday at the Sounds of The Near Future stage. The duo will also be performing a DJ set on the Sunday at the Valley stage — so two for the price of one.
We’ve yet to hear a bad remix off the back of Charlotte Gainsbourg’s 2017 album ‘Rest’. So far we’ve had reworks from SebastiAn (the album’s producer), Tensnake and now Alan Braxe.
The brains behind seminal cuts like ‘The Music Sounds Better With You’, the legendary French DJ and producer delivers a disco masterclass for his remix of Gainsbourg’s ‘Les Oxalis’ that doesn’t run rough shot over the original but instead embellishes the original’s shiny disco aesthetic.
More of this, please.
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