Last weekend I made my way over to the Hackney Marshes for BBC Radio 1’s Hackney Weekend. With no Glastonbury this year and me missing Reading, this was my only ‘festival’ (if you can call it that) of the year and it proved to be a fantastic day out.
With the Olympics coming to London this year the BBC decided to treat the residents of Hackney and the surrounding areas by bringing their annual Big Weekend to the Hackney Marshes. Tickets were free and to prevent them being sold on came with your face printed on them. A £2.50 booking fee applied to each ticket.
Previously the only similar festival which was as broadcast focused as the Hackney Weekend was T4 On the Beach a couple of years ago which was quite frankly awful so I didn’t go into the event with high expectations, but with the support of festival and event promoter Festival Republic the BBC were able to put on a brilliant event.
After missing the first two opportunities to bag tickets, I was contacted by Radio 1 to be told that I live in a postcode eligible to apply for the additional Sunday tickets which were made available. I am a little bit gutted that I wasn’t there for Saturday to see Jay Z and Kanye West absolutely kill the main stage in a £2.50 version of Watch The Throne (just without the lasers and shit). Nevertheless I still had a fantastic time and managed to see Tim Westwood, Labrinth, Professor Green, Flux Pavilion, Devlin, Sway, Lethal Bizzle, Doctor P, Jessie J, B.O.B, Tinie Tempah, Florence and the Machine, Dizzee Rascal, Rihanna and Jay-Z.
My favourites from Sunday were, Tinie Tempah who tore up the main stage and even gave us a little preview of some fantastic new material from his upcoming album Demonstration. Florence Welch and her machine were brilliant as always; and after working almost every single one of her concerts and even bumping into the woman backstage whilst holding two bags full of dirty linen but not seeing any of her shows at The O2 last winter I finally got to see why the world seems to love Rihanna!
Sunday had a special guest performance by Dizzee Rascal which was kept under wraps for weeks and only announced just before Dizzee took to stage. This was a little disappointing after hearing rumours of Drake, Coldplay and Kanye West flying around the site. I have a lot of respect for Dizzee who in an interview with Radio 1’s Newsbeat said ‘it would have been nice for the crowd to have known I was playing’, and I can only agree with him. Dizzee put on a brilliant set, but he’s just not ‘special guest’ material and after spending three quarters of an hour waiting at the main stage after Florence and the Machine’s set we were all a little underwhelmed.
The only thing I could fault with the whole Hackney Weekend was the crowd. It just lacked that festival buzz. You had people turning up to the wet and muddy Hackney Marshes in Converses and flip-flops, but that’s just be being anal. What really annoyed me however was being in a crowd of people at certain points of the day who had only come to see Rihanna, which is fine until you get to the point where Florence and the Machine is belting out one of my favourite songs of hers Spectrum and nobody around me is dancing, and you’re hearing comments like ‘I hate her’ and ‘she’s weird’. Now I don’t know about you but if I were at a festival and I didn’t like the person on stage I’d go and enjoy myself somewhere else rather than just standing there and ruining the set for all the other fans gathered nearby. Oh and don’t even get me started on the woman who tried to slyly take a piss next to me in the crowd. Fine at Reading or Leeds maybe, but not in the Hackney crowd.
Overall however it was a great day out filled with lots of fantastic artists. There was room for improvement, however for £2.50 I can’t really complain! I hope Radio 1 bring their Big Weekend back to London again soon and I’d recommend everyone to apply for tickets next year no matter where it ends up being in the country.
For a limited time you can view all of the weekend’s performances on the Radio 1 Hackney Weekend website.