Reviewed: South West Four Festival 2018
August Bank Holiday weekend, the notoriously wet weekend usually has the country covered in a downpour. But that doesn’t stop thousands of dedicated ravers and music lovers, travelling the length of the UK, donning their wellies and glitter, just to see their beloved DJ’s, as the country becomes awash with festival fever. It’s that one last long weekend and the perfect chance to bow out of your summer antics. For myself, I had the pure pleasure of attending Clapham Common for the 15th birthday celebration of South West Four.
Arriving at our hotel a day in advance to enjoy what the capital has to offer, our attention quickly turns to the weekend ahead and usual ‘Must See’ debate for the weekend ahead. Top of our agenda as ever, the incomparable Chase & Status on Sunday and the hope of catching some awesome Grime acts in-between.
Situated on the historic Clapham Common, in the heart of London, SW4 is easily accessible via the tube. Our hotel at Hyde Park is only 9 stops away and with each passing station the tube gets busier, the energy grows and the pre-festival buzz is in full motion. Large groups pile out of the station, piling into each other as they try and get their bearings to locate the festival. Thankfully, everything is clearly signposted and staff are already on hand to point revellers in the right direction. After the usual security checks and collecting our set times for the weekend, we do the inevitable and head to the bar.
SW4 is laid out as you’d expect, the main stage takes the centre, surrounded by it’s supporting cast of tents, food vans and bars. Acts are already performing and crowds gather in anticipation. As we arrive at the bar I’m astonished to see that it has the facility to pay by card. This is a festival first for me and what is both a blessing and a curse. No more 45-minute queues at the cash point, but both bank balance and liver could take a serious hit.
We quickly move on to catch some music, firstly heading over to the Indoor Main Stage to catch Sunnery James & Ryan Marciano. I first saw the Dutch duo a year ago to the day. So what better way to celebrate that anniversary than with another visit. As the crowd begins to grow, the lads deliver a flawless set of progressive house that gets the weekend off to a flyer.
Shortly after we tent hop before settling at the Main stage for the unexpected highlight of my weekend when Grime pioneer, Dizzee Rascal takes to the stage. The Londoner arrives at the stage to the sound of Big Ben as goosebumps rush over my body. I was a huge fan years ago, but that has fizzled out as I grew and my music taste changed. But that feeling of nostalgia is one you can never control or beat. I found myself in ore and singing along to every word of ‘Fix Up, Look Sharp’ like I’d been a super fan for years. A truly unforgettable festival moment.
We have some downtime and stock up on food and drink. The queues are all short, staff incredibly friendly and the food is incredible. It’s the festival that seems to keep on giving. As the night draws in, the magic of the festivals happens. The whole place transforms into a ravers wonderland. Next on our hit-list are 3 DJ’s taking to the stage as one, Netsky B2B Jauz B2B Slushii. The set had so much energy, you couldn’t help but be transfixed as we moved closer to the front. We were literally being drawn in. The trio interact with the crowd, having selfies and even taking to standing on the decks. Their silhouettes were strangely reminiscent of 3 famous Swedish DJ’s.
Elsewhere across the festival at the Indoor Main Stage is Galantis. Without even easing you in, they fire high tempo tunes at the huge crowd they have pulled in. As the first day comes to a close, with Marshmello closing the Main Stage, we make our way back to our hotel. Once again the helpful staff are on hand to direct the right way. Day 1 done and we are incredibly impressed.
Day 2 arrives and so does the rain. It doesn’t dampen spirits, I always say it’s a true sign of a true festival goer if they’re prepared to face the adverse weather. Thankfully it seems the crowd is of the same opinion and everyone is in great spirits. The second day continues from where day 1 left off.
The Main Stage is alive with the heavy beats from My Nu Leng igniting a raucous crowd, while the indoor stage has the legend of Roger Sanchez B2B with Ibiza locals The Mambo Brothers. It’s also a time for the Grime acts to show what they can do, with Bugzy Malone and Lethal Bizzle adding to an already diverse line-up.
The day belongs to Chase & Status though. Back and celebrating their 15 years together, they deliver a set of the highest order. Delivering a mix of new and old classics, the duo along with the ever imposing MC Rage dominating the stage. The whole weekend has built to this moment as always the guys do what they have done for so many years. It brings to a close an unforgettable weekend.
I have had the privilege of being able to attend many festivals across the UK and Europe and I can safely say that there are not many that can compare to the incredibly impressive SW4. The whole weekend flowed without any problems. The line up had all the hallmarks of being incredible and it duly delivered. Not a queue in sight, staff willing to help, a line up to rival the best in the country and all acts hitting you with some of their best sets of the season. What better way to finish an unforgettable summer?!