CGuk | Wireless Festival 2023
Festival season is back, UK's biggest Rap & Hip Hop festival returns to Finsbury Park, this year Wireless have kept their festival at one location only. Previously Crystal Palace, Birmingham & Finsbury hosted the weekend, stretched over two weekends. Playboi Carti had the pleasure of opening the festival on the Friday, Travis Scott kept the vibes strong for Saturday's main act and D-Block Europe had the honor of closing the festival on Sunday night. This year was a sell out event, with a capacity of 50,000 at Finsbury Park, the home of Wireless.
One of the best experiences about festivals has to be the fact you get to see many of your favourite collab tracks live, artists are always bringing their features out as surprise guests. Some information always gets leaked to social media about people who might be popping out each year, but I think Wireless did a good job at keeping their surprises under wraps. The social media coverage was engaging with their audience perfectly, linking up with BBC 1Xtra to bring you behind the stage interviews, games and full performance footage.
Friday was a day that a lot of the Opium fans were looking forward to, filled with performances from the headliner (Playboi Carti), Ken Carson & Destroy Lonely. You could tell it was the opening day as the crowd was full of energy from start to finish, Yeat must have had the best crowd reaction on the Friday and arguably the best reaction of the whole weekend. It was the 'Flawless' rappers first performance at Wireless Festival and the crowd will certainly want him back next year. As the biggest Hip Hop festival in the UK as remained at the top, we have watched the crowds change over the year and by booking these artists they knew their target audience would book tickets and show out for their favourite new school acts.
Metro Boomin also had a noticeable performance from the Friday, the producer has been racking up a massive number of hits over the years and as his first performance at Wireless, he also got to showcase his catalogue to the London crowd. It wouldn't be a Boomin set without the help from a special artist either, the fans were also surprised when Future popped out to spin a couple of their hit collabs too. As soon as you heard that 'Superhero' instrumental, you could feel the crowd irrupt in anticipation for what they was about to witness.
The females were coming in hard too, Lola Brooke & Latto had the best two sets on the Amazon +44 Stage. Two huge figures in the US scene, I was actually surprised to see them on the second stage but I know there sets have earned them a spot on main stage when they return to the festival.
Playboi Carti is certainly not a newbie when it comes to headlining Wireless Festival but the fans still treat his performances like its his first time. I have never saw a fanbase go so crazy for their favourite star at any festival, Carti is renown for his die hard fanbase and this was on display once again. He served as the perfect first headliner and set the pace for Travis Scott & D-Block Europe.
FLO kick started the antics on the main stage for Saturday as the crowd geared up for; NLE Choppa, Clavish, Bryson Tiller, Headie One, Lil Yachty, Mariah The Scientist and more.
For me NLE Choppa and Clavish had the best performances from the Amazon +44 Stage for the day, both bringing two different types of energy. NLE Choppa kickstarted at 3.20 for his first Wireless performance but his energy was felt like he had been a regular here in the UK. A lot of his recent tracks have been huge internet sensations and racked up millions of views on YouTube which definitely contributed to the energy of his set, fans were singing word for word. There was a part of his set where he even placed the mic on the floor, DJ cut the music and just let the fans take over for a track. The rapper truly knows the definition of crowd control and pretty much had them in the palm of his hands for 45 minutes with his dance moves and incredible energy. Clavish has been bubbling on the UK scene for the past year now, so it was only right that 2023 was his first Wireless performance, which won't be his last. Despite being on stage at the same time as Bryson Tiller over on the main stage, he still packed out his set, filling out the second stage in full capacity. For me, this is one of the best things about the festival, the versatility in artists from each stage, brings a vibe for everyone.
Moment of the day has to go to Travis Scott's headline performance, he was certainly my favourite headliner of the weekend. The Houston rapper last headlined in London back in 2019, he performed for an hour straight in the rain and had the crowd going crazy. Fast forward 4 years and he came with the exact same energy, he also levelled up his stage production this year. One of the only artists at Wireless that had such a creative set up for the stage, one clip that is going viral on the internet highlights this. He was lifted up on a crane during the later part of his set and has been captured on camera trying to hide the operator as he didn't want him to be in his shot. One of my favourite moments of his set had to be when he brought out Sexyy Redd, she is an upcoming artist from St Louis, Missouri. Whether you like her music or not, she is certainly catching the attention of a lot of fans but also the biggest artists in the game. Despite not being announced as a Wireless act this year, she managed to find herself on the main stage twice, once with Lancey Fouxx and then the Saturday headline set with Trav. Travis Scott along with Playboi Carti had to be up there for best crowd reactions of this Wireless, the crowd was jumping from start to finish.
Sunday was arguably the best day of the festival, not only did the lineup bang but there was the most surprise artists popping out on this day. Despite Lil Durk cancelling after reportedly being hospitalised, we got to see the likes of; 50 Cent, Popcaan, GloRilla, Lil Tjay, Fivio Foreign, Dreya Mac, Krept, Konan, DBE & more. If you were tuned into BBC Radio 1Xtra earlier in the week, you would have got the exclusive that Bryson Messia was being brought out by Popcaan on the mainstage. The duo kept their word, as the new artists had the crowd jumping with his hit single "Talibans". The two jamaican artists set the pace for what was about to come from the Sunday evening.
Lil Tjay was the next artist to pop out onto the main stage filled with a bunch of surprises for the London crowd. If you booked to go last year, you will have noticed Tjay was on the lineup but couldn't perform due to the rapper being shot on the week of the festival. So this was actually the Bronx rappers first time performing at Wireless, which served as part of his album promo run. His new album "222" dropped a few days ago, after he performed some new tracks at Finsbury Park. After getting the fans hyped up, he decided to bring out influencer Speed to perform his track "World Cup" which was received with much energy from London. One of my favourite parts of the set was when he did a Pop Smoke tribute, mixing a few of his tracks to perform with Fivio Foreign. This served as a perfect end to the set, wrapping up his first time at Wireless, my guess is he will be booked on next years bill.
Wireless is known for their showcase on the hottest current artists at the time of the festival, it is not everyday you get to see a legend like 50 Cent. His set has to be my favourite part of the weekend, the energy, the hits and surprisingly, the weather was unmatched. Every time an artist like this performs, you are always shocked by how many hits they actually have, from start to finish, 50 had nothing but bangers. In my opinion I thought that 50 should have headlined on the weekend, it would have made perfect sense to give him a headline slot on the Friday, Saturday or Sunday. This set served as the perfect warm up for his "The Final Lap Tour" which is coming to the UK and Europe later on this year. He will be touring in over 90 different venues across the world with Busta Rhymes and Jeremih, you can get your tickets at 50cent.com
After four years of performing at Wireless, it was fair to say DBE earned their stripes to headline the closing day in their hometown. The growth of the rap duo has been crazy, I remember going to their set a few years ago at the second stage and they had to shut it down earlier, due to it being over capacitated. It was only right they brought full energy and a whole heap of guests out with them. From start to finish, they took us on a journey of their anthems over the years but also span a few records from their latest album 'DBE WORLD'. They kick started bringing their people out with Nafe Smallz to perform their new tack 'Navy Seal'. Followed by Chip to continue their 'DBE WORLD' promotion for their collab 'No More This Time'. One of the best moments of their set was when they brought out Clavish to perform their summer hit 'Pakistan', the crowd had the most energy for this new record. When Krept & Konan popped out it felt like a special moment, for both of the duos. For me, Krept & Konan are the hardest UK duo we have had but for the past few years DBE have stolen that crown and held it down. So when they performed "Obsessed" it was a pure moment, for them but also the crowd who have followed the UK rap scene over the years.
In true Wireless style, as soon as the 2023 festival finished, they dropped the early bird tickets for next year at Finsbury Park. You can purchase your tickets from the link here - www. wirelessfestival.co.uk/tickets
Question is... who would you like to see on the 2024 lineup?