A three day musical fiesta
Wireless Festival 2012

Fresh off the heels of Hackney Weekend, Wireless Festival was in jeopardy of being overshadowed by the BBC’s free concert – which took place two weeks prior, featuring many of the same acts as the Hyde Park-based music event. However, to much delight, the annual Barclay Card-sponsored London festival held its soggy ground, during a rainy, mud-filled three day extravaganza.

Friday, dubbed the “quieter” day of the generally dance/R&B/hip hop line-up, lived up to its name as the less commercial day of the three. Childish Gambino’s superbly entertaining performance at the Pepsi Max stage, set the musical tone early on in the day, whilst fellow US star Santigold kept the tempo high with an equally impressive quirky showpiece.

Over on the main stage, legendary old skool rappers The Roots bought some much appreciated funk to the festival, fusing jazz and rock, with classic hip hop. Accompanied with a full band, the Philly MC’s exuded versatility and originality – an element that is painfully vacant in many of today’s rap music – making for a breathtakingly creative nostalgic set. Deadmau5 topped the bill with a rave inspired encore, and although entertaining, the finale never quite lived up to the Chemical Brothers’ electrifying showstopper the previous year.

Saturday welcomed a more youthful audience in comparison to the previous day, as 60,000 fans flocked to the capital city to watch the likes of Wiz Khalifah and Rita Ora. But it was Canadian R&B singer The Weeknd who proved one of the day’s most popular performers, as crowds eagerly surrounded the tent, in order to get a glimpse of the rising stars rare UK outing. Still relatively unknown on the mainstream and with no official album under his belt (yet), the 22-year-old, real name Abel Tesfaye, gained legions of fans following the 2011 release of his critically acclaimed ‘House Of Balloons’ mixtape. The Toronto native had audiences ecstatically reciting the likes of ‘The Morning’ and ‘Wicked Games’, proving smaller acts can shine equally as bright as big international artists.

Not to be outshone, headliner Nicki Minaj stayed true to form with her colourful playful - and somewhat bizarre - trademark outfit. The flamboyant MC’s hip hop inspired tracks such as ‘Romans Revenge’ and ‘Did It On Em’ garnered huge roars from the crowd and were visibly more embraced than the New Yorker’s recent pop material. Minaj’s Young Money label mate Drake closed the show on a high, belting tracks from his ‘Thank Me Later’ and ‘Take Care’ albums, as well as fan favourites from ‘So Far Gone’ and various feature versus.

The atmosphere at London festivals tend to be slightly more reserved, so when Sunday saw the weather take a dramatic turn, Hyde Park immediately became a mud-fest and all of a sudden it felt like a proper festival. A$AP Rocky thrilled fans early on in the afternoon. One of the most buzzed about acts of 2012, the hype surrounding the Harlem rapper often divides opinion, but raps trendiest newcomer put on an impressive slot. Jessie J’s performance was marred with some technical sound difficulties, but the ‘Price Tag’ singer put on entertaining show none-the-less.

Following a rather lacklustre performance at Hackney Weekend, some were slightly weary of what to expect from the festivals big headliner. But defying her critics, Rihanna was back to her best, as the Bajan superstar churned hit after hit, to the ecstatic rain-drenched crowd, who cheerfully sang along. Dressed in a daringly revealing crop outfit, the 24-year-old thanked her Brit fans for slugging it out in the grey weather:"Thanks for staying to watch me in the rain... Only in London would you guys stay to watch this show," she gushed, before resuming back to song. Hits such as ‘Take A Bow’, ‘Umbrella’ and ‘Only Girl In The World’ had audiences vibrantly dancing, whilst losing their voice in the process. A ray of fireworks commenced for the encore performance of ‘We Found Love’ – a fitting end, to the three day musical fiesta.

Words by Vanessa Laker
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