Once again Wireless Festival took over London’s Finsbury Park, for a weekend of totally banging music. With huge headline sets from Stormzy, J. Cole and that surprise performance from Drake, as well as exciting performances from Rae Sremmurd and global superstars Migos, it was a mad three days of music. Here’s what went down.
Mabel treated the crowd to a set boasting big hitters ‘Finders Keepers’ and ‘Fine Line’. Also slid into her set was a cover of Drake’s ‘Passionfruit’, but who could say if the vocalist was pre-empting Drizzy’s surprise show later in the weekend…
Wiley got the Main Stage nice and warmed up, with a slick set of grime classics. In amongst his own tunes, Eskiboy also brought out Lethal Bizzle to perform Freshers Week favourite ‘Pow’.
3Post Malone gets into the football fever
The musician took to the stage with England patches on his trousers, before hilariously telling the crowd “football’s coming back” as chants of ‘Three Lions’ rang out across the crowd.
Post Maone blitzed through a set of his trademark rap rock, delighting fans with cuts from his new album Beerbongs & Bentleys. The star seemed genuinely humbled to be playing Wireless, telling the audience “people wanted to put me down and called me a one hit wonder – but then I had a number one album and I’m playing Wireless festival!”
Friday headliner J. Cole’s set was a masterclass in how to perform. Illuminated by a spotlight in front of his band, as soon as the rapper bounded on stage and launched into ‘Window Pain’ and ‘A Tale of 2 Citiez’ the crowd erupted into moshpits. “Ladies and gentlemen let me introduce myself, I go by the name J. Cole’ the musician told the audience, not that they needed to know, as they had already been screaming back every word of every song.
Thundering through a set that included new tunes from latest album ‘KOD’, as well as a selection from his older albums, Cole was on breathtaking form. In the few breaks he took to talk to the crowd, Cole spoke about the first time he played in London, saying: “I learnt a very fucking prudent lesson about London on that day – that I have a bunch of people who have fucked with me since day one!” After a run of tracks from the beloved ‘2014 Forest Hills Drive’, Cole drew his set to a close with the one-two punch of a blistering, a capella version of ‘1985’ and the mighty ‘No Role Modelz’.
7She came thru
Nicki Minaj’s fave Ms Banks did a noble job trying to rally the crowd early on Saturday afternoon, clambering into the audience and spitting slick bars for the group of loyal fans who’s made it to Finsbury Park before 1pm.
8Raye of light
Ahead of the footie, Raye kicked off Saturday’s music with an effervescent set of R&B-tinged bangers. Making the live debut of the searing ‘Friends’, she managed the get the crowd up and dancing despite the baking heat.
9The world’s in motion
Fans needn’t have worried about missing the match, as Wireless had fans covered, showing all the action on the Main Stage screens.
10Krept and Konan
For many, nouveau-rap royalty Migos were the ones to watch this weekend, and despite the washy sound, they put on a set crammed full of floorfillers. With Madonna watching the band side of stage and performances of hits like ‘T Shirt’ and ‘Stir Fry’ and ‘Walk It Talk It’ to one of the busiest crowds of the weekend, it should have been a big moment for the trio. Strangely, they didn’t seem to enthused with the audience, with hype man DJ Durel leading most of the crowd interaction.
12The main event
Stormzy was honest about how important Saturday slot was: “I can’t lie, this is the most special show I’ve played in my career” he told the army of screaming fans, “this is my first proper headline slot!” With an extending L shaped stage, cinematic visuals and huge pyro, it felt like more than your usual festival headline set, it felt like a homecoming.
From calling out Theresa May, the gorgeous full band version of ‘Velvet’, to the brilliant choreographed dancing (from a group of young dancers he explained he had met an an album signing), Stormzy’s set was a triumph. Of course, the sweltering ‘Big For Your Boots’ was a huge moment, but it was the gorgeous set closer, ‘Blinded By Your Grace Part II’, that’ll be remembered as the moment of weekend.
With a stellar lineup of big names, the audience were quick to voice their support for the acts; but one of the biggest roars of crowd appreciation was reserved for when Lil Uzi Vert played the mighty ‘XO Tour Llif3’. In fact, it went down so well, he reloaded it and played it again.
One of Sunday’s highlights were Rae Sremmurd, who had barely set foot on stage before they launched themselves into the crowd. Brothers Slim Jxmmi and Swae Lee ensured the audience were roaring along with them, asking “London, is this the biggest party in the world right now?”
16The Gucci Gang
Meanwhile on the Pepsi Max Arena, Lil Pump drew in a huge crowd, although his set wasn’t without drama. The 17-year-old stopped his show midway through after spotting a member of the crowd having a seizure, calling for paramedics to help.
Over on the mainstage, Giggs brought the energy and all his pals, for his set. With guest appearances from Dave, Sneakbo and Mr Eazi, and a host of massive tunes, the crowd transformed into a hot, sweaty mess of mosh pits and dance offs.
18Hold On, He’s Coming Home
After DJ Khaled pulled out of his Sunday headline slot, punters started to speculate on who would be taking to the stage for the grand finale, and finally, as Giggs launched into ‘KMT’, and Drake’s OVO logo appeared with a Union Jack wing, the secret was revealed: Drake had made his way back to Wireless.
Running through a six song set, Drake made the live debut of several tunes from his new album ‘Scorpion’, including the chart topping ‘Nice for What’. Taking pot shots at Khaled, who has been posting photos of his holidays after pulling out of the show, Drizzy told the audience: “I was in the middle of my vacation, I left vacation to be with each and everyone of you tonight at Wireless fest. And if they let me , I’d stay all motherfucking night.” Alas, the sound curfew was upon us, and global star had to leave us; but not before a megalithic version of ‘God’s Plan’.