An amazing weekend filled with sunshine, electronic music and energy!
By the time I arrived at Clapham Common ready for a weekend of EDM and overpriced but delicious fast food, it felt like I’d waited an eternity for this moment, with South West Four being one of the later festivals in the year. But the wait was definitely worth it, exceeding all expectations I had formed from reflecting on my visit last year.
The first thing I noticed this time round was the improvement of planning involved in festival. Last year unfortunately we missed the earlier headline acts due to not knowing what time they started. Yet, this year they sent an email notifying everyone about the early acts and their set times, which was the first nice touch. Planning aside, the level of talent at the festival also seemed to exceed that of last year, with even higher production values, and a wider range of well-known artists.
Day one: Saturday
After deciding what acts we were eager to see, using the complementary set list sheet we received, my boyfriend and I immediately headed to the main stage to catch DJ Armand Van Helden’s set. Though I thoroughly enjoyed him last year, this year he completely topped that performance: performing remixed samples of much more modern music, yet still energising the crowd with one of my personal favourites ‘My My My.’
The highlight of Saturday had to be Craig David’s TS5 takeover. He kept the crowd energised for his entire set, performing his classics such as ‘7 Days’ and ‘Rewind’, but also brought some remixes of his favourite hits. The tent was spilling out with fans, both young and old, who had come together to experience the talent that’s meant Craig has remained on the music scene for so long.
After the euphoria of Craig David’s set, we headed to the together stage to see Example’s return to the festival. His set seemed distinctly cut into two halves: one with his own songs such as ‘Changed The Way You Kiss Me’, and the other featuring more rave type music. Though this kept the crowds in high spirits with the changes in music, unfortunately, Example was the only act of the day I was slightly disappointed with, as I wish he stuck mainly to his own releases – the reasons why I’m a fan of his in the first place.
With nightfall came the time to return to the main stage for the Martin Garrix’s much anticipated set. This was his first time with a standout main stage set in London, and he really rose to the challenge. His production didn’t have as much visual effects as other performances I’ve seen, but his raw talent for DJ’ing shone through regardless. With a mix of both his popular remixes like ‘Scared to be Lonely’ and dance anthem ‘Animals’ we were treated to a plethora of lively hits, which managed to keep us energised even after a long day in the basking hot sun.
Day two: Sunday
The second day of South West Four came with a more noticeable presence of drum and bass and jungle acts, compared to the more EDM artists on Saturday. As soon as we arrived, we rushed to the main stage, where we remained for most of the day, to catch Plan B’s debut performance at the festival. His set proved musical versatility across a spectrum of styles, with grime/hip-hop hit ‘Ill Manors’ and more soulful releases such as ‘She Said,’ which managed to keep the crowds moving even in the scorching heat.
After Plan B finished, we hung around for Shy FX’s presentation of ‘Cult.ure.’ There’s a reason why Shy FX has transcended the genre of drum and bass for so long, and that’s because he seems to bring energy and power to any song that he touches. His new release ‘Roll the Dice’ was a particular favourite, though he also treated us to some nostalgia with the start of ‘Shake Ur Body,’ another favourite of mine (which I was very unhappy he didn’t finish.)
After spending some time trying to avoid imminent sunburn and dehydration in the bank holiday sun, we set off to catch Chase & Status. Their set differed from that of last year, which saw them performing more of their own tunes, whereas this year they kept the crowds entertained with a drum & bass and Jungle DJ set. In fact, they drew such a large crowd that we had no chance of getting into the tent and had to enjoy the music from the crowds surrounding it.
Undoubtedly, the highlight of my entire weekend was Pendulum’s brand new show – Trinity. Words alone cannot explain how unforgettable their set was, and how much energy it brought to a very tired Lauren. Not only did the trio invigorate the crowds with their electrifying electronic music, a breath-taking level of production accompanied these hits. Really, all I can say is if you get the chance to see the debut show, go and do it!
Overall, South West Four stuck true to its core values of providing fans with the best artists on the EDM, drum & bass and grime scene, and they still manage to do so with a reasonable price tag. I had the most amazing bank holiday weekend on Clapham Common, and I hope I’ll be able to it all again next year.
The dates for South West Four 2020 will be released soon, so be sure to stay in the loop here.