stellar line-up makes up for the weather on first day of South West Four

South West Four 2012 review

published: Tue 28th Aug 2012

Saturday 25th to Sunday 26th August 2012
Clapham Common, London, SW4 9DE, England MAP
£85 for weekend - SOLD OUT
daily capacity: 20000
last updated: Mon 20th Aug 2012

Finding a quiet spot in Clapham Common for rest and relaxation can sometimes be a difficult proposal, being a popular spot in London's leafy suburbia. This is certainly more troublesome over the August bank holiday weekend, as the South West Four festival landed in grand fashion to deliver the latest instalment of their two-day dance music festival. Bringing some heavyweight acts across dance, house, drum and bass and dubstep, the Saturday promised an excellent selection of carnival beats, breaks and basslines.

While the line-up was the one thing that you could count on this year, the weather certainly wasn't. Heavy storm clouds plagued the early afternoon and pelted down on the attending revellers, turning Clapham into scenes from Glastonbury in a matter of hours. This did have the effect of making everyone run for cover and in to the tents, where the music was already pumping and getting everyone into the right mood – not least of which was Roger Sanchez in the Subliminal tent, whose funky house set kicked off the party in grand fashion. A similar story was to be found elsewhere, with artists Gareth Emery, and Markus Schulz providing excellent trance-driven sets ahead of Paul van Dyk in the Evolution tent, alongside techno house sets from Robert Babicz, and Guy Gerber in the Bedrock tent that didn't disappoint and warmed up the crowd for headliner John Digweed.

As they say, when it rains, it pours and this was no exception, leaving only the bravest to watch Benny Benassi's DJ set on the main stage. But the skies eventually cleared and the sun decided to make an appearance to leave Clapham Common a thoroughly wet and muddy venue, just in time for Knife Party to kick off. Returning to SW4 after last year's performance as Pendulum, duo Swire and McGrillen's new project more than proved that they are going from strength to strength. Deftly moving through their repertoire of bass-heavy electro house and pumping dubstep, the crowds quickly gathered and perhaps for the first time in the festival, it felt like the day had properly started amongst all the headbanging and mud stomping.

Eager for more, the crowds did not go disappointed as they handed over to veteran Carl Cox, who proceeded to play a great set of pumping funky and electro house. For a DJ who had recently turned 50, he ably proved that he has still has got what it takes to read the vibe in a crowd and know how to get a place rocking. Surprisingly for everyone, he even ended the last 20 minutes of his set by throwing in a mini drum and bass set, just as the rain started to drizzle again. Undeterred by the weather, a delighted crowd just got out their umbrellas and coats and continued to dance unabated and this worked as a brilliant segue into the next act.

Mic in hand, Zane Lowe followed on by starting in familiar fashion, running through popular tracks and remixes laden with drops and filthy bass lines, all the while imploring the crowd to get moving. Starting with house and electro, the mix flowed nicely whilst occasionally dropping into dubstep before picking up speed to the frantic drum and bass finish. Love him or hate him for his brash set, he knows how to get a crowd worked up and provided an excellent warm up to the main event.

Sporting guitars, two huge keyboard/laptop desks, a massive drum kit and loads of lights and displays, headliners Chase & Status are an impressive presence on stage and a world away from a few guys in a bedroom studio. Taking their cues from other live dance acts, theirs is a polished combination of live drumming alongside thrashy synthesisers and a great MC as they played their best dubstep and drum and bass tracks as the night fell on the festival. The crowd writhed as the ground shook in time with the music and if anything their performance was a suitable end to what had been an excellent collection of acts, each building up in successive crescendo to this avalanche of bass.

While the first day of the festival may have ended on a rather muddy and soggy note, the stellar line-up and energetic crowd response more than made up for the weather and kudos to the event organisers for the way they had arranged the acts. Each stage offered music of a different type to cater for different tastes. All was very much of a high standard through out and carries on the deserved reputation of SW4. A personal highlight for me was watching five people dancing to Knife Party whilst splashing around in a puddle, not letting anything stop them from having a good time. And that is pretty much what it is all about.
review by: Chris Smout

Saturday 25th to Sunday 26th August 2012
Clapham Common, London, SW4 9DE, England MAP
£85 for weekend - SOLD OUT
daily capacity: 20000
last updated: Mon 20th Aug 2012


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