Wireless Festival 2012
Luke McKenzie went down to Wireless festival this year, but is the festival now just chasing the zeitgeist?
Ever since the first Wireless Festival kicked off back in 2005 it’s become evermore pop orientated. Gone are the days of seeing The White Stripes, The Flaming Lips or The Strokes…even a guitar is a rare sight. Now that pop behemoths such as Rihanna, Drake and Nicki Minaj have taken over this hallowed turf it’s become a bit less Artrocker-ey and more like V Festival.
Friday seemed like the precursor to the festival with Hyde Park looking scarily sparse when Metric blasted through their synth-laden set. It drew heavily from the aptly titled ‘Synthetica’ before culminating with 2004 single ‘Dead Disco’. Over at the Pepsi Max stage the dubstep/rock fusion of Modestep perfected the Skrillex-esque “drop” before hip-pop songstress Santigold’s dynamic stage show, rich with dancers, stage invasions and a massive white horse galloped throughout her 45 minute set.
The legendary 80’s rap-group The Roots played their eclectic hip hop to thousands of people on the main stage who were pinning after their classic old skool funk, jazz and rap amalgamation. Bringing along a full band of live musicians, the Philly crew showcased that rap music can still be unique and their cover of ‘Sweet Child O’ Mine’ hit the spot in the realm beyond fun. Canadian Deadmau5 was left to headline in his trademark flashing Mouse-head with the highlight being his dance with Sofia Toufa on ‘Sofi Needs A Ladder’ sans the rodent feature. However, he was playing to a half-empty field so the energy of the crowd failed to match his dramatic lighting show full of space-age cubes and LED pulpit.
Saturday saw a vast increase in people in Hyde Park. I don’t have the exact numbers to hand but I judged the capacity based upon the difficulty getting from one stage to another without getting pelted by a beach ball. It’s fair to say that the Essex day-trippers were out in full force for ‘Drizzy’ Drake who teamed up with fellow label-mate and cartoon character Nicki Minaj on ‘Make Me Proud’. Mass sing-alongs were on cue for ‘I’m On One’ and ‘No Lie’ but I especially liked his rant about “treating girls like women instead of bitches”, before contradicting it in the next song…good game-playing Drizzy. Earlier in the day AlunaGeorge opened the Barclaycard Unwind Stage with their hip-hop inspired neo soul. The highlight was the Aaliyah influenced ‘You Know You Like It’ which was released on Tri-Angle Records -home to Balam Acab, Holy Other and Clams Casino. The Weeknd won the award for the busiest tent of the weekend as the Pepsi Max stage was bursting out of the seams despite not releasing an official album yet. The set drew heavily from 2011’s free mixtape ‘House Of Balloons’ with most of the love coming for ‘Wicked Games’ and the Siouxie and the Banshee’s sampling ‘House Of Balloons’. The crowd left squashed but happy and preached that singer Abel Tesfaye “was the second coming of Michael Jackson”.
The Sunday felt like your standard festival stuck in a field in the arse end of nowhere due to the heavy deluge of rain, impenetrable mud and the ‘lads’ in the crowd wooing the ladies by swimming in the mud (does this ever work?). This aqua onslaught brought everyone together and it set the scene perfectly for the highlight of the whole festival when Harlem rapper A$AP Rocky came bounding onto the Pepsi Max stage to the smell of purple haze before ripping through ‘Wassup’ and ‘Purple Swag: Chapter 2’. A$AP certainly lived up to the hype and new songs ‘Celebration’ and ‘Goldie’ before finishing with ‘Peso’ from the LiveLoveA$AP mixtape and cries of “Swag Swag Swag”. With the likes of Cher Lloyd, Pitbull and co. plying their frankly terrible interpretation of music there was little to keep the attention throughout the day but multi-instrumentalist Labrinth impressed with his use of vocoders and guitar-riffs. Whilst 18-year-old prodigy Madeon threw down mixes of Blur’s ‘Song 2’, ‘Mr Brightside’ and The Gossip’s ‘Heavy Cross’ to mass hysteria from the clans of fake eyelashes and crew cuts raving down the front. Over on the main stage Jessie J suffered from technical problems but the crowds were eating out of her hand especially for her hit single ‘Price Tag’. This left pop-superstar Rihanna to conclude the festival with her hit-laden set sandwiched between Egyptian paraphernalia. Predictable closing with ‘Umbrella’ it was an apt way to finish the rain-soaked weekend, although it had stopped raining by this point.