Wireless Connect: Festival line-up, dates, how to watch and more – Evening Standard



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Wireless festival is usually one of the biggest dates on London’s festival calendar and, before the pandemic, it was all set to welcome more than 135,000 revellers to Finsbury Park.

Like every other major festival in the UK, though, Wireless was forced to cancel its plans for 2020. Luckily for us, that’s not where the story ends — the festival has gone virtual.

This weekend, Wireless Connect will broadcast a string of fresh performances, all of which have been filmed in 360-degree virtual reality. Some iconic sets from the past will also be available for a good dose of nostalgic escapism.

What’s more, the event will have a charitable slant to it, with donations encouraged for the Black Lives Matter movement. Find out more about that here.

Read on for all you need to know about Wireless Connect.

The best albums of 2020 so far

11

show all

1/11

Getty Images

2/11 Dua Lipa – Future Nostalgia

Future Nostalgia arrived at the end of March, a ray of light to pierce the lockdown gloom. It was a shot at writing something timeless, taking strands of classic disco and Eighties synth-pop and putting them through a slick, modern filter. On standout tracks such as Don’t Start Now and Cool, Dua Lipa hit her target. More than anything though, this was something defiantly fun, a heartening reminder that there are brighter times ahead.

Getty Images

3/11 Phoebe Bridgers – Punisher

It would be easy to label Punisher as a sad album, because it is, with heartache and despondency always within an arm’s reach. But to simply call it that would be to grossly undersell it — the album, also out today, is cathartic, nostalgic, surreal, grounded, darkly comic and, more often than not, weepingly beautiful. The disarming vocals are morbidly quotable (“The doctor put her hands over my liver /She told me my resentment’s getting smaller”) and confirm the 25-year-old Bridgers as one of her generation’s deftest writers.

Getty Images for Tibet House

4/11 Tame Impala – The Slow Rush

It took some time to fall in love with Kevin Parker’s latest album as Tame Impala. Its layers were dense and meticulously produced, a product of the Australian’s dogged perfectionism, but when they did eventually unravel, the album’s brilliance was revealed in vivid colour. There was squelchy hip-hop and tap-dancing piano on Borderline, alluring ­sophisto-funk on Breathe Deeper, and dizzying disco on One More Year. Parker’s lyrics were typically conflicted, stuck between past and future, but musically, he’d never sounded so assured.

AFP via Getty Images

5/11 Fiona Apple – Fetch the Bolt Cutters

Fiona Apple’s fifth album was eight years in the making, and sounded as if it had been simmering for all that time. It was inescapably personal, rattling with homemade percussion, grinding against Apple’s visceral vocals as she retold traumas of sexual abuse and toxic relationships. But it all coalesced to give momentum to a magnificent release of tension, the sound of a furiously convinced artist. “Kick me under the table all you want,” she asserted, “I won’t shut up.”

Getty Images

6/11 Run The Jewels – RTJ4

When Killer Mike, one half of Run The Jewels, wrote Walking In The Snow (“You so numb, you watch the cops choke out a man like me”) he was remembering the tragic death of Eric Garner in 2014. It should have been retrospective; instead, it was hideously prophetic, arriving on RTJ4 amid the George Floyd protests. But these were wide-lens raps — joined by partner El-P, they fired lyrical missiles at the racist police and ruling elite, interspersing it with cutting quips and dark humour. Painful, prescient, and hugely powerful.

Getty Images for DIRECTV

7/11 J Hus – Big Conspiracy

Big Conspiracy was the sound of an artist taking his time. The eclectic beats, largely provided by ­chameleonic producer Jae5, avoided the usual bombast for something understated. The lyrical gaze was sharp, ranging from the legacy of slavery to the grind of everyday life, all of it recounted with clever wordplay. It wouldn’t be a Hus album without tales of at least one sexual conquest — the song Cucumber provides it — but all in all, never has the east Londoner been so searingly composed.

Getty Images for Nike

8/11 Bob Dylan – Rough and Rowdy Ways

Bob Dylan’s 39th studio album, released today, might just be one of his greatest. Before this, eight years had passed without any new original music. Had the old master lulled himself into retirement? The surprise release of a 17-minute song about the JFK assassination did away with any doubts. It’s a densely lyrical album, a poetic and historical tapestry, proving that, at 79, the Nobel Prize-winner is still at the peak of his songwriting powers.

AFP via Getty Images

9/11 Georgia – Seeking Thrills

Georgia’s exhilarating second album landed back in January (oh, those halcyon days) and was the sound of an artist brimming with new-found conviction. Arriving five years after her debut, she had finally found her voice — quite literally, shunning the over-produced vocals of before — and a winning musical formula: retro-tinted dance pop, pairing the throbbing echoes of Chicago house with sharp modern melodies.

Hollie Fernando

10/11 Orlando Weeks – A Quickening

Former Maccabees frontman Orlando Weeks took a mature step away from his indie-rock past on his debut solo album, supplanting it with soft, cloudy atmospheres. A Quickening covered his impending fatherhood, and all of the unknowingness that comes with it. It was minutely intimate — “I’ll be your blood sugar”, he pledged to the unborn child — with his vocals at their most tender and innocent.

Jackson Bowley

11/11 Laura Marling – Song For Our Daughter

Another album to ease the pandemic blues, Laura Marling had initially planned an August release, but brought it forward to April. It had an effortlessly classic sound to it — the folky tones of Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen and Nick Drake chimed throughout — but this album was undoubtedly Marling’s own. Her vocals were soaring, sardonic and soothing, singing with all the wisdom of an artist who, still only 30, now has seven albums’ worth of experience behind her.

Getty Images

1/11

Getty Images

2/11 Dua Lipa – Future Nostalgia

Future Nostalgia arrived at the end of March, a ray of light to pierce the lockdown gloom. It was a shot at writing something timeless, taking strands of classic disco and Eighties synth-pop and putting them through a slick, modern filter. On standout tracks such as Don’t Start Now and Cool, Dua Lipa hit her target. More than anything though, this was something defiantly fun, a heartening reminder that there are brighter times ahead.

Getty Images

3/11 Phoebe Bridgers – Punisher

It would be easy to label Punisher as a sad album, because it is, with heartache and despondency always within an arm’s reach. But to simply call it that would be to grossly undersell it — the album, also out today, is cathartic, nostalgic, surreal, grounded, darkly comic and, more often than not, weepingly beautiful. The disarming vocals are morbidly quotable (“The doctor put her hands over my liver /She told me my resentment’s getting smaller”) and confirm the 25-year-old Bridgers as one of her generation’s deftest writers.

Getty Images for Tibet House

4/11 Tame Impala – The Slow Rush

It took some time to fall in love with Kevin Parker’s latest album as Tame Impala. Its layers were dense and meticulously produced, a product of the Australian’s dogged perfectionism, but when they did eventually unravel, the album’s brilliance was revealed in vivid colour. There was squelchy hip-hop and tap-dancing piano on Borderline, alluring ­sophisto-funk on Breathe Deeper, and dizzying disco on One More Year. Parker’s lyrics were typically conflicted, stuck between past and future, but musically, he’d never sounded so assured.

AFP via Getty Images

5/11 Fiona Apple – Fetch the Bolt Cutters

Fiona Apple’s fifth album was eight years in the making, and sounded as if it had been simmering for all that time. It was inescapably personal, rattling with homemade percussion, grinding against Apple’s visceral vocals as she retold traumas of sexual abuse and toxic relationships. But it all coalesced to give momentum to a magnificent release of tension, the sound of a furiously convinced artist. “Kick me under the table all you want,” she asserted, “I won’t shut up.”

Getty Images

6/11 Run The Jewels – RTJ4

When Killer Mike, one half of Run The Jewels, wrote Walking In The Snow (“You so numb, you watch the cops choke out a man like me”) he was remembering the tragic death of Eric Garner in 2014. It should have been retrospective; instead, it was hideously prophetic, arriving on RTJ4 amid the George Floyd protests. But these were wide-lens raps — joined by partner El-P, they fired lyrical missiles at the racist police and ruling elite, interspersing it with cutting quips and dark humour. Painful, prescient, and hugely powerful.

Getty Images for DIRECTV

7/11 J Hus – Big Conspiracy

Big Conspiracy was the sound of an artist taking his time. The eclectic beats, largely provided by ­chameleonic producer Jae5, avoided the usual bombast for something understated. The lyrical gaze was sharp, ranging from the legacy of slavery to the grind of everyday life, all of it recounted with clever wordplay. It wouldn’t be a Hus album without tales of at least one sexual conquest — the song Cucumber provides it — but all in all, never has the east Londoner been so searingly composed.

Getty Images for Nike

8/11 Bob Dylan – Rough and Rowdy Ways

Bob Dylan’s 39th studio album, released today, might just be one of his greatest. Before this, eight years had passed without any new original music. Had the old master lulled himself into retirement? The surprise release of a 17-minute song about the JFK assassination did away with any doubts. It’s a densely lyrical album, a poetic and historical tapestry, proving that, at 79, the Nobel Prize-winner is still at the peak of his songwriting powers.

AFP via Getty Images

9/11 Georgia – Seeking Thrills

Georgia’s exhilarating second album landed back in January (oh, those halcyon days) and was the sound of an artist brimming with new-found conviction. Arriving five years after her debut, she had finally found her voice — quite literally, shunning the over-produced vocals of before — and a winning musical formula: retro-tinted dance pop, pairing the throbbing echoes of Chicago house with sharp modern melodies.

Hollie Fernando

10/11 Orlando Weeks – A Quickening

Former Maccabees frontman Orlando Weeks took a mature step away from his indie-rock past on his debut solo album, supplanting it with soft, cloudy atmospheres. A Quickening covered his impending fatherhood, and all of the unknowingness that comes with it. It was minutely intimate — “I’ll be your blood sugar”, he pledged to the unborn child — with his vocals at their most tender and innocent.

Jackson Bowley

11/11 Laura Marling – Song For Our Daughter

Another album to ease the pandemic blues, Laura Marling had initially planned an August release, but brought it forward to April. It had an effortlessly classic sound to it — the folky tones of Joni Mitchell, Leonard Cohen and Nick Drake chimed throughout — but this album was undoubtedly Marling’s own. Her vocals were soaring, sardonic and soothing, singing with all the wisdom of an artist who, still only 30, now has seven albums’ worth of experience behind her.

Getty Images

When is Wireless Connect?

The virtual festival will take place from Friday July 3 until Sunday July 5.

Who is on the Wireless Connect line-up?

Wireless’s usual blend of pop, hip-hop, grime and R&B continues with the virtual festival. Of the newly filmed performances, highlights include sets from Stefflon Don, Lady Leshurr, Avelino, IAMDDB, Jaykae, Saweetie, Ray BLK and Steel Banglez, among others.

Classic archive sets from previous editions of Wireless are also going to get an airing, from the likes of Skepta, Not3s, Bugzy Malone and Rae Sremmurd.

Day splits and set times are yet to be confirmed, but the full list of artists locked in so far is below, and you can read more about the full line up here.

How can I watch Wireless Connect?

To get the full 360-degree experience, you’ll need to download the MelodyVR app onto your smartphone — it’s available on Android and Apple devices. Better yet, anyone who owns a MelodyVR headset can use that to get the best out of the footage.

Otherwise, the festival will be streamed on Wireless’s Facebook Live and YouTube channels.

Where were the new performances filmed?

Alexandra Palace is transformed for Wireless Connect

Filming has been split across two locations. In London, Alexandra Palace has been the venue, with its newly restored theatre hosting a range of socially distanced performances.

Over in the US, MelodyVR’s Los Angeles studio has been used, with strict social distancing guidelines followed there too.