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Sunday- Reviewed by Jack Finnan

South West Four has proved to be a certified smash over the August bank holiday weekend in the past few years. 2017 was no different with Pendulum and Deadmau5 headlining the Saturday and Sunday respectively. After a delightfully hot Saturday refreshed ravers returned to SW4 for more mayhem down on Clapham Common.

Once we’re through security we are away into the wide-open space, the early afternoon sun beating down on us. We head for some shade at the Amnesia stage (which we later referred to as the techno tent). Looking around the festival each stage is filled to the brim with quality acts, the only shame was that there wasn’t enough time to see everything we wanted to. Away from the sun’s glaring rays, we delve into some tightly compact spinning from Pan-Pot on the Amnesia stage. Even at this early point in the day, the crowd is up for it, dancing and shouting as CO2 cannons are blasted high into the air.

Hoping to give this review more of a flavour of the festival we decided to do a tour of all the other stages. Ferry Corsten was at home at the Ministry of Sound stage laying down trance to an ever-loyal audience, plenty of hands-in-the-air moments were had. Try as we might to cover all the bases it was just simply impossible to be everywhere all at the same time. Big shout out to the booking team for the festival as there was something for everyone whether it was classic house from Erick Morillo, trance from Cosmic Gate, chart-friendly dance from Example, pioneering technology from Carl Craig or thrilling techno from Sven Väth.

Like a moth drawn to a flame, we found ourselves back at the Amnesia stage for Sven Väth. The Cocoon boss was on at 4 in the afternoon for just shy of two hours, a rarity for such a big festival and the tent was packed to see it. A giant LED screen burst into life behind the German techno titan. A blacked-out triangle(/pyramid) reminiscent of the Amnesia logo was in the centre of the screen as colour exploded around it, Sven at the centre digging through his records. Just after quarter past 4 Väth drops ‘Neutrino’ by KiNK the crowd mimics playing those synth keys with their fingers waving in the air. The pace is unrelenting so I step outside to catch my breath and have a quick chat with Sub Focus. Read the interview here!

Returning to the Amnesia stage I’m glad to see the audience really appreciating Sven Väth’s set, huge cheers ringing around the tent. After his set, Sven sticks around side of stage to watch Loco Dice take to the decks. Dice pushes the tempo up even further bringing more of that harder German techno sound with him. The dark tent is illuminated by Loco Dice’s symbol glowing red shooting sparks off with a soundtrack to match. This was arguably one of the best sets of the day as the Tunisian demonstrated why year in year out he is still at the top of his game.

Emerging into early evening the sun is still beating down and we’re blinking trying to find our way to the main stage for Sub Focus. A big crowd has turned out for Sub Focus, who has his third album in the pipeline and a handful of new tracks to drop on this London crowd. He’s also bringing his new and improved live show to the stage with a large lighting rig and more tech behind the scenes. One of the biggest tracks from his debut album, ‘Rock It’ sets the tone for the performance. That instantly recognisable hook is chanted back to Sub Focus by thousands of Londoners jumping in unison. From there the Londoner mixes into his new collaboration with Rudimental ‘Trouble’. It was the perfect tune for the sunshine with the vocals from Jamaican star Chronixx complimenting the dub-style beats of the track. After a few newer songs, we are transported back to 2009 with Sub Focus classic ‘Could This Be Real’ which proves to be a real fan favourite with some questionable skanking coming from some of the audience.

Knife Party take to the main stage fresh from their fantastic performance with the rest of Pendulum on Saturday night. The crowd is big as the duo lay on some of their big hits like ‘Internet Friends’ which are lovingly received. Having seen many Deadmau5 t-shirts throughout the day it was in no doubt there was a large number of fans there to see the Canadian play. Deadmau5 played from the top of a giant 3D LED cube (version 2.1) which jutted one of its corners directly toward the crowd. Weighing just under five tonnes and standing over five and a half metres tall the monolithic structure was a sight to behold, beaming the brightest and clearest lights and visuals into the night I’ve ever seen. Joel Zimmerman then proceeded to lay on a mixture of classics and other material from under his iconic Mau5 helmet. I bumped in to him earlier on in the day but he was unavailable for comment.

SW4 what a fantastic festival, keep up the excellent programming we can’t wait for next year!

Grahame Farmer

Grahame Farmer’s love affair with electronic music goes back to the mid-90s when he first began to venture into the UK’s beloved rave culture, finding himself interlaced with some of the country’s most seminal club spaces. A trip to dance music’s anointed holy ground of Ibiza in 1997 then cemented his sense of purpose and laid the foundations for what was to come over the next few decades of his marriage to the music industry.

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