Wireless Festival 2021 review: superstar comeback for London’s biggest rap weekender

Crystal Palace Park, September 10-12: sets from Megan Thee Stallion and Migos – plus a surprise appearance from Drake – make for a massive return

Wireless might have been an online affair last year, but it’s certainly made sure to come back with a bang. The London event is one of those festivals that every rap fan looks forward to, and upon arrival at its debut south of the river – this time in Crystal Palace Park – we’re treated to the colourful outfits of your typical festival-goers.

The layout of the 50,000-capacity Crystal Palace Park allows you to see your beloved star better than at its usual home in north London’s Finsbury, which makes watching Drake here on Friday even better than when he was at Finsbury in 2018. The superstar joins Future, an artist who’s reached a place in his career where he has so many hits that his sets are a nostalgic trip down memory lane.

Headlining on the Friday, Future opens up his set with viral 2017 track ‘Mask Off’, which has everyone jumping and – for the first time this weekend – the ground shakes beneath us. Around a half-hour into his set, Future performs ‘Jumpman’ – a collaboration with Drake – by himself, making us think the latter isn’t coming out.

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Then the screens suddenly go black, the house lights are off – is this the end? It’s only 9pm – and the words “Hey Wireless: the boy is home” pop up on the screens. The crowd charges to the front and out comes the ‘Certified Lover Boy’ in his all-camouflage outfit to perform new tracks ‘Way2Sexy’, ‘Life Is Good’ and ‘Laugh Now, Cry Later’ for the first time since his sixth album was released earlier this month, making the crowd a small part of rap history.

Usually Friday is quite a slow day, with festival goers warming up for the weekend ahead, but with the biggest news story of the weekend out already, Saturday and Sunday feels like it’s chasing the awe of Friday. Saturday is packed-out, with the sunbeams bouncing off the sea of bodies around the yard. However, although it’s a beautiful day, the main stage battles a bunch of sound problems.

After north-west London’s finest Fredo goes overtime to reload his club classic ‘They Ain’t 100’, production turn off his microphone. Later, Swae Lee’s sound box falls out frequently, visibly frustrating him. Even Meek Mill tells the team to up the music in his ears. It wasn’t the best at the Main Stage, but downstairs at the Palace Stage (née Pepsi Max Stage) is an intimate and fun setting to see some newer artists such as S1mba, whose set is full of cheesy, generic afroswing tunes – perfect in the sun.

The site at Wireless Festival 2021. Credit: Getty

By the end of the day, Skepta makes up for all the faults on the Main Stage. Playing mostly his popular club tracks and WizKid collaborations, he brings a cheery end to Saturday, brings out his brother, JME, and AJ Tracey; this is a real friends and family affair. However, in his formal black jumper and white shirt with ammunition belts wrapped around him, he can’t quite match Drake.

But Sunday’s two headliners, Megan Thee Stallion and Migos, set a perfect end to the weekend. The former’s set is fun and salacious as always, with the rapper and her dancers in red, leather-style outfits. The Hot Girl Coach nearly takes the cake from Drake’s surprise: her set is perfectly choreographed, showing off herself and her amazing dancers – one even twerks on the floor, using her chest as her only support. Megan has all the ladies dancing to her hits ‘Cash Shit’ and ‘Crybaby’ (with DaBaby’s verses notably removed) and ends with ‘Thot Shit’, where she finally does her signature rocking squat as the word Thot’ weirdly zoomed in and out on the screens. The Houston Hottie did it again

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And then it’s up to Migos to close Wireless with a predictable yet fun show. Considering they have headlined the Wireless stage three years in a row, it’s surprising that their set is still a great watch. However, it’s simply down to them being the hitmakers that they are. They start off with a few new tracks from new album ‘Culture III’, eliciting little response from the crowd, but once 2013 classic ‘Hannah Montana’ come on, we’re back to our old moshpitting ways – making the ground shake again.

Older tracks, including those from 2017 album ‘Culture’, elicit similar reactions, as well as Offset and Takeoff performing their own verses. As Migos play out their best-known hit ‘Bad And Boujee’, the confetti cannons go off and sparklers fly. And even that’s not the end, as the trio soon launch into another medley of ‘Culture III’’s singles.

Drake and Future and Wireless Festival 2021. Credit: Getty

Finally they end with the infectious ‘Straightenin’’, fireworks firing up to the sky as a climatic end to our weekend. There were a few hiccups in terms of sound, but then again this was Wireless’ feel-out year in its new location; surely there will be a little more finesse next time. Just imagine what they’ll achieve in 2022.

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