United Kingdom | 07 July 2009
The nation's most contemporary urban club festival, Wireless, dazzles under a Hyde Park heatwave as the stars sweat it out for an unlikely crowd writes Anja Kimberley.
London’s favourite festival park finds itself commandeered by 25,000 party goers from all walks of life – the regular soap adverse hair-dye-happy, ‘ardcore gangstars, rampant ravers and ‘proper bad’ Chelsea girls, all of which are largely oblivious to the fact the music thundering through the arena comes with an all-inclusive performance.
Afrika Bambaataa And The Soulsonic Force launches his set accompanied by elaborate outfits mixing killer records from 50 Cent’s ‘In Da Club’ to ‘The Roof Is On Fire’ by Rock Master Scott and The Dynamic Three and one of thankfully few Michael Jackson references with an brief throwback to ‘I Want You Back’. Rounds of “I say hey – you say ho” are as effective as they are unoriginal and jolt the party spirit through the barely dressed crowd. As the display of oversized glasses and fancy dress comes to an end the sun and heartfelt advice to respect the universe takes hold and the once stand offish crowd are eager to unite – reaching out for the nearest stranger and squealing about how Daddy “simply can’t believe I’d be at a place like this, ya?” appears to be the standard pleasantry.
Across the park The Streets have the tent full to bursting point for the first half of their set, but sadly overestimating fan loyalty having taken the risk of injecting their more ‘moving’ tracks to an otherwise groupie-worthy set. ‘Dry Your Eyes Mate’ frees up some space for the ravers to throw some moves –this involves protruding the posterior repeatedly quickly followed by hoisting appropriate clothing (t-shirt/dress) over the head. Skinner and Trail strut around the stage beefed up to their prime singing to random audience members throughout the set. The need to reach out to fans is endless – “look at someone you don’t know – a stranger.” Everyone looks at a, um, stranger. “Now look into their eyes. I want you to tell them that you love them and I want you to mean it.” Disturbingly this stunt is followed by ‘Shotgun’ and the now minimal crowd is coerced into crouching long enough to be sprung in an unexpected frenzy of release to their rave based future album tracks.
Intensity builds as Dizzee Rascal takes to the main stage. Every bit the showman Dizzee parades the stage in a basketball vest and long shorts. All in favour of his lack of style effort, the crowd draw tight in anticipation of the biggest party set of the summer: ‘Old Skool’, ‘Money Talks’, ’Come Dance Wiv Me’ and of course ‘Bonkers’.
Complete with garish outfits and captivating dance moves Sneaky Sound System burst onto the stage to give us a dose of Aussie Party spirit. Connie Mitchell and MC Double D are visually entrancing as they loose themselves in ‘Pictures’ and erupt frenzy among fans with ‘Sweet Dreams’ remix.
Day one headliners Basement Jaxx attract a hefty crowd of onlookers with the party people suitably squashed into the handful of front rows. Working their way through a string of hits including a soulful, atmospheric rendition of ‘Romeo’ the rebels of pop conventionalism keep the party alive as Hyde Park clouds over and nightfall sets in. Although the impact of sequinned tracksuits and warrior dancers is lost on a lukewarm crowd, this set has something for everyone and the day finishes with an air of satisfaction.
Day two is dominated by the Camden’s hip hop trio N-Dubz as they saturate the stage with personality and charm. This no-frills set is visibly generating new fans by the second as songs including ‘I Swear’, ‘Ouch’ and ‘Wouldn’t You’ are infiltrated with comical banter. Following a series of teases the audience is treated to a Stryder-less ‘The One’. Dedicated fans hot foot it across to the second stage where Tinchy Stryder delivers his own set and is joined by Dappy for a tent-rocking finale of the number one record.
In a festival faux pas Flo Rida are tucked away in the second leaving crowds a little thin for Calvin Harris as fans swarm the tent and surrounding area in hope of hearing some of the biggest tunes of the year. This misfortune was compounded by disappointing stage presence which largely consisted of a stage full of girls in denim skirts, white tees swinging white material round their heads to floor fillers ‘Right Round’ and ‘Low’.
Diversity, still new to their well deserved adoring audience look every bit as fresh faced and blown away by the experience as the first time they burst onto our screens in the Britain’s Got Talent auditions. Ashley is interviewed on stage giving us an idea of their relentless touring since winning the show and Perry is pulled to the front grinning the ear to ear beamer that makes even the hardest of the hard chuckle before launching into a phenomenal extended performance which will undoubtedly be delighting crowds for years to come.
An instant delight to the crowds, Kanye West provides a powerful performance of ‘Homecoming’ with the occasional audience acknowledgement. The bubble of promise quickly deflates as ‘Coldest Winter’ and ‘Say You Will’ leave fans milling around yawning. Naked girls in spray paint are a two-second eye opener before their presence becomes as bland as the seemingly endless chain of indulgent repetitive song choices. Recapturing the fading adoration Kanye reminds the hoards why they love him with ‘Diamonds’ compounded with ‘Gold Digga’, ‘American Boy’ and fan favourite ‘Stronger’.
Overall - 7/10
The line up assembly clashed between same-genres meaning a great deal of sacrifice and big names staged in the tent were a disappointment. However the festival was well organised and the variety of acts is among the best held in Hyde park for some time.
Getting there and back - 9/10
Easy for anyone in and around the city, although some tube lines were down. Hard luck for those needing the Jubilee Line.
Atmosphere - 5/10
The festival attracts too many people who are just there for the hell of it and have little interest in music
Music - 8/10
Very mainstream, but some of the best mainstream around.
By Anja Kimberley.