Monthly Archives: July 2013

Wireless Festival 2013 review: A pilgrimage, dust, unisex toilets, mystery musicians and big basslines

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Written by Zen Terrelonge

Yahoo’s Wireless Festival 2013 took place Friday 12th July – Sunday 14th, moving away from its previous home of Hyde Park and into the Olympic Park.

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Location and venue

I say ‘park’ but there was very little greenery around the main stage, although a layer of artificial grass coated the stone and dust-riddled ground to limit busted ankles and allergies.

That said, the opportunity to buckle on the uneven surface and inhale filth was still on offer when visiting the bars and eateries surrounding the main stage or when making the pilgrimage to the smaller Yahoo, Pepsi Max and SBTV stages, which were in a field a ten to 15-minute walk away.

Yep, an actual field with edible grass and everything.

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In comparison to Hyde Park, the Olympic Park offers a supremely larger area to spread the stages out across, which is great because it makes the event feel a lot more impressive and less crowded.

On the other hand, while it’s inevitable that acts will clash, you’re more likely to miss out one way or another because you’ll need to make the hefty commute to the other side of the site.

Just be prepared for the smut to make you look like you’ve been working down a mine for the day.

Music and organisation

The 2005-launched festival used to be all about the indie/rock scene, but it’s now very much all hip hop, house and R&B, which suits me just fine.

Just Friday and Saturday dates were announced originally, and uproar was caused among early buyers when a third day was announced, combining the respective Justin Timberlake and Jay Z headliners into a double act on the Sunday.

JT delivered a brilliant performance on Friday, although it started ten minutes early, which goes back to my mention of the site being so vast hindering people’s ability to get from one side to the other at pace.

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John Legend and Snoop Dogg Lion also delivered amazing performances, both managing to captivate the crowd with hugely differing tacts, while the atmosphere in the Yahoo tent for Waka Flocka was off the scale! I especially loved the way his DJ carried on throwing out hard trap beats with complete disregard for following his colleague off the stage once their time slot was over.

Saturday highlights consisted of Iggy Azalea in the Pepsi Max tent, executing an alluring routine with a troupe of four dancers, while not failing to showcase the backside she’s famed for.

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Calvin Harris also blew the crowd away in the same tent a few hours later. In fact, the tent was so busy that people were forced to party from outside, which suggests the organisers were out of their minds to stuff the globally famous DJ on a smaller stage.

Now, I’ve been particularly confused to see news that Tinie Tempah – who I’m a big fan of – gave a solo performance between 18:40 and 19:15, given that this wasn’t publicised in any way.

Seemingly, he was a surprise guest, which is all well and good if you happen to be in the vicinity at the time, but my friends and I weren’t and missed out hugely.

Jay Z did a fine job of closing the second day, with JT making an appearance to team up on Holy Grail, but unlike JT, he scarpered from the stage at 22:30 – 35 minutes earlier than his companion – instead of 23:00 as billed.

There was also a silent disco on offer where I acquired a free pair of Yahoo sunglasses, which was fortunate as mine broke later that day. The two DJs getting the mute crowd going were assigned to old school hip hop and UK garage, much like the music found on media partner Kiss FM’s Kisstory.

A Kisstory tent would have probably gone down a treat, though a standalone Kisstory event at the O2 was scheduled for Saturday evening, which may have put the two events at loggerheads.

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Facilities and prices

There were plenty of food places to choose from, with burgers, Reggae Reggae chicken, hog roasts, pizza and sweets eateries all available. Burgers were priced at £5 and up, soft drinks at £2 and up, and chips at £2.50 and up, so basically you’re looking at a tenner for a meal depending on where you go and what you fancy.

However, unlike the HD Festival I recently attended, pricing was fixed for the day and food didn’t suddenly creep up when merchants realised how hungry their punters were.

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Signal problems were experienced throughout the day, meaning the unfortunate predicament one would face if separated from their clique. Having said that, the signal was intermittent so calls, texts and the web could be accessed at times, while the signal at Hyde Park was out of service all day.

As for the toilets, some men seemed delighted to find that the queues for the male portable cabin-based lavatories were full of women. I was not one of them. Accessing the unisex porta loos was troublesome enough, with an orderly queue by day becoming a hellish rabble at night, so the sanctuary of the male toilets being inundated with women was not a pleasurable experience when full of cider.

The taps were also erratic and it seems like the anti-bacterial gel in the porta loos weren’t even full at the beginning of the day.

And speaking of cider, pints of the Apple beverage were priced at £5 and the same for beer and alcopops, while mixers like vodka and coke cost £6.

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Organisers need to be transparent with their plans and cut the bullshit promotion. If there was the slimmest chance a third day was going to be added, then they should have waited to announce the days altogether instead of misleading their customers.

Food and drink prices could do with being reduced, because a ten-hour party is going to work out expensive at the prices on offer, particularly when tickets cost £60 a day.

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Stick to the timetable and don’t start people early or reveal mystery guests on the day without announcing them clearly. That’s just going to piss people off, and if an artist like Tinie has their own set then they’re not getting full exposure if people don’t even know they’re there.

Despite the eight-year-old event falling at a number of hurdles, I still had an amazing time, supported largely by the people I went with and incredibly powerful sound systems belting out the strong line-up.