This past weekend saw Wireless pulling out all the stops. Arguably one of the festivals biggest and most impressive line ups in recent years, the 3-day event saw the likes of Drake, Rihanna, A$AP Rocky, The Weeknd, Santigold, J. Cole, The Roots, Nicki Minaj and a whole host of others take to the Hyde Park stage.
Despite the dismal British weather we took full advantage of the line-up, making sure our must-see acts were ticked off – and of course, experiencing new performers we hadn’t yet caught live.
The weekend began relatively calm on Friday – Santigold entertained us with a high octane performance of material from her new album Master of My Make-Believe, while The Roots reminded everyone about to get their brain zapped by Deadmau5 what music with melody and rhythm sounds like.
Saturday was a lot more exciting. Not only were we amped to see the like of Drake, Nicki Minaj, Deliliah, AlunaGeorge etc – all of whom put on great shows, but it was also the day we were to experience the allusive Weeknd live for the first time.
As frequenters of PinBoard will know, we’ve championed the rogue Canadian for some time – his body of work thus far has been a hot topic across many of our digital pages and so it was with a lot of excitement we trawled through the mud over to the Pepsi Max stage to see how Abel Tesfaye delivers in person…
With a confidence we weren’t all too expecting, the ‘What You Need’ singer not only disproved any early concerns that his voice wasn’t up to scratch, but also commanded the stage like a veteran pro. What’s more or probably most incredible was that his crowd (which was probably the biggest non-mainstage crowd of the day) knew every word to every song. Not only dispelling notions that an artist like The Weeknd isn’t able to survive off-line, but also that what he’s been doing over the past couple years connects with more than just emosh downloaders. It also confirmed that tides have well and truly turned – hard to argue when you see mandem singing ‘High For This’ with 80’s power ballad gusto.
The cardinal fail of the day however – The-Dream performing at the same time as The Weeknd. Not entirely sure what programmers were thinking but putting two of the leading explorers of new millennial R&B on at conflicting times was unforgivable. Terrius must have been pissed.
Headliners Drake and Nicki Minaj did their superstar thing. 70,000 people danced, jumped and fainted in sunshine, rain and wind ( (at times, simultaneously). But Aubrey’s performance was of course tipped by him him bringing Abel out to perform ‘Crew Love’ (beyond emosh) and Minaj for ‘Proud of You’.
It was left to Rihanna on Sunday to close the show. And love or hate her, the Bajan megastar knows how to work a crowd – it helps when you have a million incredibly successful singles like she does, of course. Running through her catalogue with little genuine magic, it sometimes takes seeing her live to realise just how successful she’s been at recording hit songs. And how perfectly suited most of them are for big outdoor festivals where “performance” (voice, dance etc) isn’t necessarily the most important thing or a focus.
The day also saw stellar performances from A$AP Rocky & J. Cole, both gentlemen gathered a solid crowd to the respective stages – Rocky brought the ruckus though, obviously.
In all Wireless 2012 was probably the best London music festival organised this year. It pulled together an exciting line-up with not only big-pull names, but also smaller, more credible ones too. It was a great combination of musicians and a really fun 3 days.
A special thanks to our friends over at SPG for showing us such an amazing time and for their wonderful hospitality. Watching the show from side-stage and then later from the observation deck (centre-stage) was… Incredible!
Until next time.
Photography courtesy of Rhodi Jones