Any naysayers that say Wireless Festival isn’t a proper festival (no camping, in the middle of a city) might have rethought their stance had they seen Hyde Park on the Sunday. The intermittent downpours and trodding feet of 65,000 revellers turned the normally grassy ground into a mudbath worthy of any countryside festival. Not that anyone cared. The atmosphere was one of easygoing excitement, no doubt bolstered by an even poppier and dancier line-up than the previous two days.
It wasn’t only the rain that made a return to Wireless on Sunday. Rising star Labrinth was given a second slot, this time elevated to the main stage – echoing his already meteoric rise to chart success. He played the same set as Saturday, but his performance felt looser, more confident, more fun. He seemed more at ease on the bigger, more exposed stage. Closing his set with his big hit 'Earthquake', he also seemed genuinely moved to be there, thanking the crowd for the experience.
In the Pepsi Max tent, another act that’s generated plenty of buzz this year – 23-year-old US rapper A$AP Rocky – put in an energetic and aggressive performance. With a similar set up to Hilltop Hoods on the previous day – two rappers and a DJ – it was hard not to compare the two acts. A$AP Rocky was a much more serious affair, with none of the party vibe generated by his more experienced Australian counterparts. The crowd was less bouncy as a result, but judging by the amount of lyrics being shouted back at the US star, he has a dedicated and growing following.
Party vibes were flowing with abundance from the main stage as pop duo Rizzle Kicks performed with infectious enthusiasm. Rizzle and Sylvester bounded up and down the big stage with apparent glee, churning out the tunes from their hit album Stereo Typical. Inexplicable covers of the James Bond theme and The White Stripes’ 'Seven Nation Army' filled out the setlist, but it was the hits that got the most joyful crowd reaction.
French DJ and producer Madeon was the first of three dance acts lined up for the big finale in the Pepsi Max tent. Another act generating plenty of buzz in 2012, the 18-year-old drew an impressive crowd, all keen to check out his heady, disco-fuelled house set.
The next DJ and producer out the gate was US star Kaskade. Best known for his floaty collaboration with Deadmau5, 'I Remember', the American DJ hit the up-for-it crowd with a surprisingly heavy techno house set. It was perfectly pitched, with the whole tent unable to just stand and watch the impressive light show by the end of it.
It was a mere warm-up compared to Calvin Harris, however. The tent filled quickly and the crowd spilled out, stretching back up towards the main stage. It suddenly seemed silly, given he’s having his most successful year yet, that he wasn’t on the main stage. A screen outside the tent prevented those unable to get in from missing too much, and as Harris mixed his hits with classics such as 'Where’s Your Head At', 'Save The World' and 'You Got The Love', people got playful in the mud.
It wasn’t to be the last outing for Harris’s global megahit 'We Found Love' that evening, either. Initially billed as Rihanna’s only UK gig this year, the hype about her Wireless appearance had been dampened somewhat by her performance at Radio 1’s Hackney Weekend two weeks previously. Even the Egyptian-themed set was the same. But once she took to the stage, front-loading her set with three big hits: 'Only Girl', 'Disturbia' and 'S&M', the Barbadian singer had the London crowd in the palm of her hand.
Rihanna was accused of lacking charisma in her early days. Still only 24, there’s no danger of that now. Her casual but engaging 90 minute performance saw her carrying the mantle of being one of the biggest pop stars in the world with ease. For casual fans it was sometimes hard-going: there were many songs from her recent album, and long sections of mid-tempo album tracks seemingly designed to showcase Rihanna’s thigh wobble rather than engage a crowd. But when the hits came out – songs that the whole crowd know by heart – it was impossible to resist singing along.
Words: Will Marlow
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Originally published: 11th Jul 2012