Fresh from a packed day of house, dance and trance, the South West Four festival marches on to the Sunday and opened its doors on Clapham Common to greet a wholly different crowd for the second day of the festival. Traditionally, the second day of the festival sees significantly better weather than the first and thankfully Mother Nature didn't change her habits for the tenth anniversary year. In fact, despite the slightly cloudy sky, it was actually deceptively warm, almost like it was a proper summer day. However, there was plenty to remind you that it was still the August bank holiday, as the common had been transformed into something more akin to a mud bath around the main stage.
Moving on from the first day of the festival, there was a lot more variety on offer on the main stage this time around in terms of musical styles. This couldn't be more welcome; after a day of pounding beats without much change, it was good to have some change. A case in point: RL Grime, and Baauer mid-afternoon trap sets counterpointed Steve Aoki's harder and edgier electro. Aoki's set in particular saw him bouncing around the stage and out from behind the booth to greet the crowd: a great reward for those who had stayed out in the front row.
Following on saw festival regular DJ Andy C and live MC take to the main stage, having graduated from one of the tents from last year. Firmly ticking off drum and bass from the list of electronic genres SW4 covers, his set of grimey jungle and DnB anthems got things into a party atmosphere as the sun finally came out from behind the clouds. Demand for this harder electronic sound was catered for perfectly by Knife Party, whose set expanded on the dubstep and dance sound from the previous year and featured more of their finely tuned productions and live versions. Together these acts had managed to turn the main stage area into a stompy riot of mud and dancing bodies – with stuff like this, who needs Notting Hill Carnival?
This isn't to say that there wasn't anything else across the park to check out. Catchy house and dance acts curated by John Digweed were on offer in the Bedrock stage, with Sven Vath, and Eric Prydz drawing big crowds of smiling faces to the back of the site. The tent culminated in a performance with Boys Noize, whose full set saw the German DJ mixing atop a garish skull stage complete with lights in the eyes and mouth. Add sparse lighting, smoke machines and massive flames in the stage and this combines for a striking appearance, before you factor in the catchy beats, bass lines and distinctly lo-fi computerised vocals.
Meanwhile over on the other side of the park in the Together tent, it was nice to see a slice of Hoxton represented at SW4, with established names like The 2 Bears, and Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs bringing that slick East End sound to the fore. Rustie in particular had the tent dive into classic rave and jungle at times, eliciting cheers of joy from the crowd and creating just a fun tent to bounce around in with everyone as the night drew in.
Finishing up the weekend was Example headlining the main stage, who was about the only kind act on the main stage across the weekend to feature a full band, or indeed anything other than just a DJ booth. Performing a wide selection of popular singles with fireworks and other pyrotechnics, his contemporary, catchy pop style highlighted the variety of different styles offered on the Saturday and was a great way to finish up the weekend.
Heading back to the tube to scrape the mud off my trainers, it's amazing to think that SW4 was ridiculed for starting off in 2003 when dance festivals were in decline. Who would have thought that ten years later, they are still going from strength to strength, despite its detractors and constant battles with the weather? I can only look forward to the next ten and seeing what new acts are showcased here.
latest on this festival
joining Martin Garrix, Craig David, The Prodigy, Chase & Status, & more
line-ups & rumours
festival home page