When Wireless first launched in 2005, it was best-known as a chart-friendly indie and dance festival, with the likes of Basement Jaxx and lad rockers Kasabian headlining. Then, in 2017, it transformed into the UK’s premier rap event; a reputation it has upheld ever since.
But on the Friday of this year’s Wireless, many punters looked more like they were at a Cradle of Filth gig than a rap show. Thousands of fans braved the scorching hot sun in all black fits, pairing chunky platform boots with lace tops, gothic font tees, metal chains and face piercings. Think: Mayhem meets The Matrix.
They most likely weren’t dressing up like this for Ice Spice, who brought out PinkPantheress to perform their sugary hit Boy’s a Liar Pt. 2. This particular style is known as “opium”, named after the label founded by Friday’s headliner Playboi Carti. For his massively influential 2020 album Whole Lotta Red, the Atlanta rapper embraced a vampiric image and ferocious sound, which created the mosh pit-opening subgenre known as rage rap – defined by distorted drums, scuzzed-up EDM synths and unhinged vocals.
Opium acts such as Ken Carson, Destroy Lonely and Homixide Gang were also on the bill, as was bally-clad rage rap star Yeat, who played his first ever UK performance (thankfully, Yeat stans refrained from wearing their black ski masks until the weather had cooled in the evening). Lil Uzi Vert – once Carti’s close collaborator and another key player in merging rap and alt-rock aesthetics – was also supposed to perform, but vanished from the line-up with no explanation the day before.
Check out THE FACE’s photos from Wireless below, and please stay hydrated if you’re rocking looks like these in the mosh pit this summer.