London’s Best Dance Music Affair: SW4 2016
With lots happening over the late August bank holiday weekend, Clapham Common was stiff competition and the popular choice for one of the biggest metropolitan festivals, South West Four. Having gone last year there were big expectations, especially as SW4 announced that they had been granted increased sound volume levels by the council for this special occasion.
Overall the location and general set up of the event was great, and although there were no directions from Clapham train station, we generally followed the flow of people to the common getting there in about 15 minutes. Entry is made easy by the large amount of stewards present and took me minutes to gain entry. As for layout, four stages are spread with a variety of food and drink stalls in the middle, as well as fairground rides if you have the stomach for it.
The VIP area was set out with a chilled out vibe, with two bars at one end and tables, sofas and bean bags at the far if you needed to take a breather. Decent toilets didn’t go a miss, however queues for these were no surprise by the end of the evening. Each stage was packed with lighting and sound, with innovative décor hung from the ceilings. Although fairly simple, this proved to be a nice asset compared to the simple bog standard tents you might find elsewhere.
From the first day out of the two there was no messing about, with all four stages showcasing some of the best talent within the dance industry. The RAM tent seemed to be a popular attraction with Friction, Delta Heavy and Camo & Krooked all putting on a show and setting the tone for the big guns Noisia and Netsky to finish the night off. Like me, you could easily spend an entire day in just one tent, as there is so much variation and there isn’t just one stage for the headliners and the other stages for the up & comers, but they are all rolled into one. One act I was very surprised to come across was the new collaboration of Dirty Horses. This comprised of Jaguar skills, Adam F and Mind Vortex with Lethal B on the mic. They brought one truly diverse and quite frankly ‘dirty’ set to the stage, bringing in hip-hop, garage and grime influences, ensuring that all of their individual skills and vibes were demonstrated. Watch out for this collaboration in the future, they are not an act to miss!
The indoor main stages revealed all things LIVE, with Flux Pavilion, Nero and Knife Party not disappointing us with their array of bangers accompanied by intense pyrotechnics. The Kingdom tent, hosted by Gorgon City, also brought an atmosphere, which was understandably the house tent of the day. Kidnap Kid did an excellent job or warming up for Pete Tong, and Redlight got the heavy rollers in ahead of the evening’s action.
Dizzie Rascal, EZ, MK and Andy C all smashed the Together outdoor main stage, making a big impression and packing the area up right into the food stalls. The only criticism I would give is for people who have seen these acts before is that their sets, especially EZ and Andy C’s were on the commercial side, justifiably suited for the festival scene, but a slightly softer set compared to others they have done this year.
Once Andy C had finished, a 30 minute interval of background music took place and then it was Rudimental’s time to shine, bringing on a vibrant full band with featured artists coming on and off; starting with their house and chart tunes and easing into drum & bass. One thing I did notice about their set was the amount of covers they did, especially a cover of General Levy’s ‘Incredible’ being brought into the mix, which increased the energy levels upon all who endured. I feel this proved a success as it diversified their set. Ending on ‘Feel The Love’ accompanied with fireworks brought Saturday to a close, but SW4 was far from over.
The second day was as equally jam-packed. There was a difference between Saturday and Sunday with regards to the acts; Saturday was seen to be more for drum & Bass, heavier house and garage fans, whereas Sunday packed out all four stages with all varieties of house music. Maya Jane Coles, Cirez D, Jonas Rathsman and Bakermat all put 100% effort into their sets to start the day with a high. In my opinion, Sister Bliss particularly did an exceptional job and really set the mood for the day with her uplifting tech and deep house remixes.
It was the first time I had seen Danny Tenaglia live so watching him on the Amnesia stage was an experience and a half! Him and Sven Vath’s vinyl house and techno set fuelled the tent accompanied by the euphoric light show and dancers to give him an extra edge. Route 94 vs Secondcity also put on a special B2B performance, which got things popping in the ANTS tent.
But it wasn’t until the sun was setting when the weapons of the industry came out to play. Jamie Jones vs Joseph Capriati, Sasha, Above & Beyond and Carl Cox all had pretty similar set times, which proved a pain if you wanted to go and see them all. I decided to see Carl Cox’s set and boy did he not disappoint. Playing house and techno masterpieces mixed in with his funky vibe and a few Oh Yes Oh Yes’s made his set in my opinion the best out of the day. With talk of what the sound levels would be like, there were no sound difficulties or issues from an attendee point of view and sounded just as loud as you would expect. Surprisingly he finished his last song with a break-beat tune, which in turn got people in the mood for the main headline of the evening, Chemical Brothers. Once all acts had finished, all other stages closed and all eyes were on the big guns. Chemical Brothers started in their usual fashion, banging out the classics from ‘Hey Boy’ to ‘Setting Sun’ with their high tempo futuristic sound. The overall performance of the Brothers, from sound, lighting and décor, was amazing and definitely closed the festival in true SW4 style.
SW4 as a whole was a great experience, from the travel to food and music; absolutely everything was on point. There was little trouble and it was a great environment to be in. This is also a great example of a festival where talented artists and headliners can be on from the first sets of the day and you don’t need to wait ‘til the evening to see the acts you want. I will be going back next year for sure and for a weekend packed with artists, its definitely worth the ticket price. It’s a great opportunity to see the artists you want and also discover some hidden gems that you may not have heard before.
Site Setup 8.0
Festival Communication 8.0
Attention to Detail 6.0
Creative Content 5.0
Value for Money 8.0
THE SW4 AFTERMOVIE: