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Hackney Weekend Day 1 - Saturday 23 June 2012

News, photos and stories from Day 1

(Photos credited to Hannah Lucy Jones and Gary Manhine)

Run this town

Jay Z at Radio 1 Hackney WeekendUS superstar rapper Jay-Z brought the first day of the BBC Radio 1 Hackney Weekend to an ecstatic close on 23 June.

Emerging from the darkness with his hood pulled low, and Sunday's equally anticipated headliner, Rihanna, by his side, the duo opened the set with 'Run This Town' in front of a 50,000-strong crowd. He urged Hackney to 'bounce' and it did, literally, with festival-goers throwing themselves into his 70-minute set with abandon.

With live music on the other five stages over, the rapper owned the whole festival - and had a few surprises up his sleeve. British rapper M.I.A came on stage to perform 'Paper Planes' and 'Bad Girls', while for his encore Jay-Z was joined by Kanye West to run through tracks from the pair's recent 'Watch the Throne' project.

Crowd during the Jay Z setThe 42-year-old performed hit after hit from his genre-defining career including '99 Problems', 'Empire State Of Mind', 'Dirt Off Your Shoulder' and 'Girls, Girls, Girls', watched by his wife Beyonce who was dancing away in front of the stage.

A highlight was the closing track 'Paris' performed with Kanye, which the duo ran through three times because the crowd couldn't get enough if it - or them - idols and role models for the inner city youth forming the core of the audience.

With East London's Olympic Park illuminated in the backround and a nationwide audience watching proceedings live on the TV and internet - it was a proud moment for Hackney.

Crowd enjoys first day of festival

The first day of the Radio 1 BBC Hackney Weekend was hailed a success by members of the 100,000 festival-goers enjoying a free ticket to the biggest UK music event this summer. 

As the rain held off over Hackney Marshes, excitement built among the diverse crowd for superstar headliner Jay-Z, and feedback about the festival so far was overwhelming positive.

Denny Armatrading (below left) "I think this festival is great. Hackney gets a bad press, but now it's getting positive attention, which shows off its good vibes."

Denny Armatrading and Bradley Abeyta  Rebecca Costello watching Leona Lewis

Rebecca Costello from Blackpool (above right): "It's amazing and it's really compact so you don't have to travel far to see acts. Never been to Hackney before, but we went out in Shoreditch last night and loved it, so much different from Blackpool, so much to do."

Charlotte Clinton, from Stoke Newington (below left in the middle) watching Leona Lewis: "Before we were unsure if we were into her stuff, but actually she's really good so we made the effort to see her. She's great! Enjoying it and the toilets are good so far."

Charlotte Clinton watching Leona Lewis  Amina Diop and Jani Oyen watching Leona Lewis

Amina Diop and Jani Oyen (above right), from Hoxton: "The festival is really well done, everything is perfect."

Sebastian Evans, six, and Darren Evans, from Gatwick (below left): "Really looking forward to seeing Swedish House Mafia. So far it's amazing and so well planned out."

Sebastian Evans and Darren Evans watching Deadmau5 in dance arena Charlotte Moody, from Essex, with Sam Gregory and Frankie Moody watching Deadmau5 in dance arena

Charlotte Moody, from Essex (above right), with Sam Gregory and Frankie Moody: "I love Jay-Z and I can't wait 'til he comes on." 

James Dawson, seven, with sister Poppy, six (below), from Stoke Newington: "So I'm building with bottles. I got the idea through bowling with them."

James Dawson, seven, with sister Poppy, six, from Stoke Newington watching Michael Kiwanuka at In New Music We Trust stage

Introducing the new school

Hackney-based youth engagement charity Rising Tide offers young people a credible pathway into the music industry - and for six young artists this culminated in a once-in-a-lifetime chance to perform live at Hackney Weekend.

They were chosen to play the BBC Introducing Stage - a national programme to give under-the-radar artists a massive step up in their career.

Gabin Sinclair, from Rising Tide, said: "This is the culmination of on-going artist development of Hackney talent. We're working with the BBC to continue their programme and everyone performing today will perform at other festivals across the country.

"It doesn't matter what postcode the young artists are from, we've got people from different areas making music with each other."

Young musician and resident Samuel Mensah, 23 (below left), who performs under the stage name Xploder, was grinning from ear-to-ear when he came off the stage.

He said: "It was amazing - I feel like my career is on its way up. This is a great opportunity."

Samuel Mensah, 23, who performs under the stage name Xploder Issac Danquah

Rhymer and Dalston resident Issac Danquah, 18 (above right), added: "It's overwhelming, I didn't expect something like this to happen. Where I'm from in Hackney, there are not a lot of positive role models. I know I'm not famous or anything, but I hope to inspire others."

Alicia Thomas, Tilishia Green and Renell HolderAnd inspire he did. Alicia Thomas, 19, Tilishia Green, 30, and Renell Holder, 18, were at the front of the stage in support of Issac. Renell said:

"I wanted to see Issac because I saw him at the Hackney Picturehouse as part of the Academy. He was really good - how's he going to get anywhere if he doesn't have supporters? We'd see him again."


Caravan graffiti art

A street artist and a decorated caravanStreet artists came together to help decorate caravans being used as DJ booths for the BBC Radio 1 Hackney Weekend.

Seven young residents, with the help of professional street artists, spent three days before the festival kicked off, getting creative with their spray cans and paint brushes. Inspiration came from living in the borough, the London 2012 Games, and Hackney Weekend.

Youth worker Emmanuel Farodoye, who helped oversee the project, said: "The past three days have been great to see young people come together and work through their ideas. It was interesting to see the different approaches the young people used and for them to channel their creativity and energy."

A street artist and a decorated caravanGraffiti artist Stallio Solo, from Homerton, added:

"I teach lyrical development and street art. I used to come and play on the Marshes as a kid - my dad taught one of the Turkish football teams. We ain't really had no big shows here - it's good for the area. It's become more diverse, which helps bond the community."


Behind-the-scenes at the BBC Radio 1 Hackney Weekend

Behind every major festival, are hundreds of volunteers who make it happen - and the BBC Radio 1 Hackney Weekend 2012 is no exception.

The festival is the BBC's largest ever free music event, with six stages, over 100 artists and DJs and a capacity for 100,000 people over two days.

Resident and volunteer, Caroline OjoThree hundred local people volunteered to help out, giving festival-goers information about the Hackney Weekend and other up-and-coming events in the borough this summer to mark the Olympic and Paralympic Games.

Resident and volunteer, Caroline Ojo, said: "I'm so glad to be part of the Olympics - I don't think it will be part of my lifetime again. I'm so excited to be at this festival. I didn't know Hackney Marshes was as big as this. It's nice to meet new Hackney faces too."

Young people in Hackney have also been taking part in an ambitious programme of local engagement and outreach activity including work with schools, colleges and voluntary groups. A third of all tickets for the festival went to young people living in the borough.

Resident Nell Jordan-GentResident Nell Jordan-Gent who is also community events producer for the BBC, feels like she's come full circle on her journey with the Hackney Weekend.

She says: "The Academy was brilliant, there were so many kids who were engaged and kept coming back. It was so emotional - at the end people were swapping numbers. It felt like even though it was the end, it was only the beginning of them. They are now going to take it on.

"I can't fault it at all - I feel like it's gone so smoothly. It's really nice that young people from all different parts if Hackney are having a brilliant time.

"What's really nice is going to the colleges, seeing the young people at the Academy and now seeing them here."

Leona Lewis

Leona Lewis at the Radio One Hackney WeekendHackney's sweetheart Leona Lewis opened proceedings on the main stage at the BBC Radio 1 Hackney Weekend today.

The local girl got things off to an emotional start, telling the crowd: "I was born in Hackney, so this means so much to me. Thank you Radio 1 for putting this amazing event on in Hackney. Thank you so much for coming along to support it, it's really important for us."

Despite being first on the bill, she got a strong, supportive welcome from her home crowd, and ended her set with a rousing version of big hit 'Run' with backing from the Hackney Empire Community Choir.

Speaking after the gig, Leona said: "It's like performing in front of all your friends and family."

Of working with the Hackney Empire Community Choir, she explained: "I've done a lot of shows at the Empire and I wanted to have some local talent who I'd worked with involved in the set."

Audiences rocked to tracks from her new album that had heavy traces of modern electronic styles. She said: "I wanted to make a festival sound, but something that was still quite true to myself so we went into a bit of dub step and drum and bass."

Adding: "It's great seeing everyone on a high today. And it's incredible the transformation of Hackney Marshes. I love the festival vibe. Now I'm just going to see some acts and chill out with some friends."

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Page updated: 28 Jan 2013 

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