Wireless Festival 2022: Two weekends, free wine and R&B, hip-hop delights

Weekend One – Crystal Palace Park Saturday

The journey was estimated to be around 100 minutes from the north of London down to Crystal Palace Park. In the end we managed to finesse the tube route so that it felt like an hour and twenty minutes roughly. Our little group included ourselves (Jill and Maya), and Sophie – who had been to Wireless the day before, bravely committing to four days in total. The sun wasn’t doing it’s thing yet, so I hooked my fold up umbrella onto the borrowed Iets Frans fanny pack I was using.

Luckily, we were able to leave a little late that day than aiming for the 11 a.m. festival start because our mutual favourite act to see first on the schedule for the day was Flo Milli at around 3.10 p.m. She was vibrant, full of life and loveable to her fans. Milli came out in a pink checkered co-ord with a crop top and matching trousers with diamante cut-outs below each bum cheek. Her hair was pressed to perfection, edges well-laid, and she sported a massive hair clip in Ariana Grande fashion. She performed our favourite tracks from May I and Beef FloMix, to In The Party and newly-released track, Conceited. Sadly, one absent-minded ‘fan’ behind the front barrrier decided to ruin the fun by pouring a drink over Milli’s head when she was gracefully taking selfies with the crowd closest to the stage. She later posted an Instagram story on the incident and seemed to take it in stride – I really hope that won’t be her only memory of London, or her first time at Wireless.

Ari Lennox was due to take the main stage just before 5 p.m. Of course, in the gap between Flo Milli and the next set, we were approached by two brothers who had also just watched Milli perform. We had good conversations whilst they did their usual lines and back and forth – they even commented how they only live around five minutes away from the park in south London. After they went to the smaller stage, we realised it was already time for Ari to come on after the guys took up half an hour chatting nonsense. Ari Lennox was divine – appearing in an all black ensemble from head to toe with a clip-in ponytail alongside the leather mini skirt, bra top, leather jacket and high ankle boots. Her vocals were clear and loud, hitting all the right notes for her tracks Shea Butter Baby, Whipped Cream, BMO and New Apartment to name a few.

J. Cole was the headliner for the day, following A Boogie wit da Hoodie, who replaced Doja Cat in her absence. A Boogie safely relied on autotune to guide him through his performance, and seemed to lose the crowd a few times. J. Cole, on the other hand, was a spectacular watch of true rhyme, rhythm, and humility. He’s a husband for real, for real. To add, he also brought out three artists under Dreamville on stage with him at separate points of the night – Bas, who was on the smaller stage earlier in the day, Ari Lennox, to perform their joint track Shea Butter Baby and give her a bigger crowd, and BIA, who had performed on the smaller stage on the Friday and came back to sing their joint track London.

Crystal Palace Park Sunday

Sunday brought more sunshine so I could ditch the umbrella altogether. With my GUAP tote bag and day two outfit, I’d swapped the usual festival ‘fit of patterned trousers and a crop top with a bum bag to a midi slit skirt with a sleeveless shirt with keyholes down the middle, held together by diamante heart buttons. We got there in the later afternoon again and made it for Little Simz, the first act I wanted to properly see. Similarly to J. Cole, Simz appeared on stage with a down to earth baggy ensemble – the trailing top and trousers, but with coloured-lens glasses and a big burgundy hat for her locs. Her rap flow, breath control and rhyme technique was also something to behold in person as she repped north London whilst down in south.

Later, Kali Uchis was set to take the main stage, so we quickly made a bee-line to be more centred by the front. We had missed an opportunity to see Uchis perform at Lovebox a couple years back, but now having trained up her vocals even more and released Isolation amongst other great features and her Latina albums, we knew we had to see her. And we were so right. She came down tied onto a pole, dressed in a burlesque-type white and pink corset, suspenders and tall, heeled, white boots as her backup dancers crawled across the stage to untie her. This was met by the screams of the fans, especially the group next to me who were fangirling for their lives – screaming I love you’s before Uchis graced the stage. Her dancers were diverse, editorial and beautiful in their ballet outfits and over the knee socks, or, tights, with two dancers having bleached blonde brows, one beautiful black dancer with a blonde buzzcut and choreography that reminded me of Solange’s performance at Lovebox 2019. Uchis was a dream, dancing and singing yet never breaking her femme fatale character, performing Dead to Me, 10% (featuring Kaytranada), Ridin Round, telepatía, After the Storm, and the Amaarae SAD GIRLS LUV MONEY remix to name a few.

Next, the men took back to the main stage with Baby Keem up first, who was actually a really good set. The rapper came out like a lost member of Men in Black, switched on the mic and had the crowd in the palm of his hands. The mosh pits were luckily not so bad for this part, although two Slavic men tried to ‘protect’ us from them nonetheless by holding us back (when will men know not to touch?). After Keem, Roddy Rich continued the hype with hit songs Lemonade and the Box which led well into Tyler the Creator’s upcoming set.

Tyler was definitely a major highlight, headlining the stage and keeping in character all the while. He continued with his lumberjack and GOLF le FLEUR luggage theme, slowly climbing on stage with a hiking stick, mounting the green mini hill that created his set. It’s always surreal seeing your favourites up close, which the Wireless stages allow for no matter how far you are in the crowd. From LEMONHEAD, See You Again (featuring Kali Uchis, although she didn’t return to stage sadly) and EARFQUAKE, which had girls in the front row screaming out the lyrics with their arms forward, to Goblin throwbacks like She (featuring Frank Ocean) with the best transition into Yonkers, and a Wolf throwback with IFHY (featuring Pharrell), Tyler conquered the stage all by himself. All the college and first year nostalgia came back from the initial blossoming of my dating life with a skater boy who loved Tyler and his initial OFWGKTA (Odd Future Wolf Gang Kill Them All) gang with Syd and Frank Ocean. The rapper and creative also performed more Flower Boy throwbacks, my favourite album from him, with See You Again including Boredom (featuring Rex Orange County), 911 / Mr. Lonely (featuring Frank Ocean and Steve Lacy), and Who Dat Boy (featuring A$AP Rocky) with the toughest mosh pit squishing us against the two people behind us who were already back to back with the metal barrier.

Weekend Two – Finsbury Park Friday

Finsbury Park was a breath of fresh air in all manners of the term. Firstly, it’s a much closer distance for our journey in north London. Secondly, it was hot hot hot that day with no cloud in the sky, and thirdly, weekend two was giving an all girls headliner weekend – the opposite of Crystal Palace Park – meaning that the crowd was generally more relaxed and tame when it came to no shoving, no touch ups, and just generally friendly fans.

This was the first time we actually split our time with the second, smaller stage as the acts there were too good this day. Highlights included Ayra Starr, who also bust out Tems’ song Vibez, Backroad Gee bringing out Pa Salieu, Mahalia singing her heart out on the main stage, Giveon taking up a chunk of the time with his serenading voice and red wine in hand, Enny performing Peng Black Girls, Rema and Omah Lay continuing the afrobeat renaissance bringing a big crowd to the smaller stage, and the main event – Megan thee Stallion / Tina Snow / thee hot girl. Megan really delivered and made sure to give an F U to the U.S. law system with encouraging a ‘my body, my rights’ chant with middle fingers in the air as she began to sing What’s New. She also made sure everyone was okay throughout her set, and prompted people not to push but give space for ‘all the hotties to twerk’ to her songs, as it should be.

Inbetween the mayhem, we managed to bag a free bottle of wine between the two of us. The lady at the bar charged Maya for a bottle of water, when she thought she said water instead of wine. Then in the exchange to give back the water, because we already came with our own refillable bottles, the lady at the bar said it’s been a long day, just take the white wine as she gave the normally £30 priced item to Maya – what a blessing.

In the night, Cardi B headlined the day and about two minutes in, she sat down on the runway of the stage and took off her black, sparkly boots as the DJ pumped up the crowd, “Wireless, what’s up?!”. She was looking radiant in a sleek shoulder bob and one-piece transparent and shimmery get up. She soon did a Beyoncé and did up bring your husband to work, as Offset from the Migos ran out on stage to sing Bad and Boujee. The toxic mom and dad really showed up because the atmosphere was so electric, I cannot fault it. Between their on-stage kisses, Offset performed some of his own songs and also did Clout featuring Cardi B. The main highlight for me was Megan coming back on stage for her verses in WAP, yes, we saw them perform WAP together live – I still can’t believe it, a culture shift. An icing on the cake, was Cardi going in for Bodak Yellow after, which of course, the crowd and myself yelled out the lyrics to all throughout. Finsbury Wireless was starting and finishing at later times than it did at Crystal Palace, meaning the end was not 9.30 p.m. but more like 11.30 p.m. In the end, the night sky was lit up by fireworks popping off with the chant of “Cardi, Cardi, Cardi”, and we made our way home, musicially satisfied from the trail of both weekends.

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