Despite the gloomy, unpredictably awful nature of the british weather this summer, Team ATB have actually been rather well treated when its come to Festival appearances this year. Overcast weather at Lovebox, jubilant cameo’s of sunshine at Global and to top it, glorious sun-soaked skies for Belgium’s Pukkelpop. So as yet, its been so far so good on a quest for good weather to compliment some darn good music.
Fast forward to the August Bank Holiday weekend, a notorious weekend for sunny skies, and London’s South West Four festival is being treated to mixed dosage of monsoon showers and sunny spells to leave the otherwise well kept Clapham Common in a somewhat confused state. Luckily unlike its legendary Northern counterpart Creamfields which was rained off in devastating circumstances, there were no worries of SW4 being subject to such adverse conditions, witha sold out allocation of music lovers from across the capital all in attendance and hell-bent on having a ruddy good rave up.
After recently recieving the award of DJ Magazine’s ‘Best British Festival’ at the Best of British Awards, the organisers have clearly stepped up their efforts to secure SW4’s status with a host of incentives to ensure they don’t lose the title anytime soon. The Sunday now stays open until 10pm, instead of its usual early 9pm finishing time,and prices have been frozed to avoid any ridiculous Reading Festival-esque overpricing.
SW4’s layout is made easy enough to navigate around in whatever state, with the common partitioned off into four corners with tents of similarly sounding electronic scape’s making sure theres a stage for everyone. Walking in straight away its clear to see the feelgood vibe is most definitely at a remarkable high, and maybe that’s down to Hip-Hop God’s Public Enemy making an entrance for what is a UK Exclusive Festival appearance in the glorious lunchtime sunshine.
With Flav and Chuk D laying down their usual politically charged behaviour they set the crowd into a Gangster swaying frenzy, breaking into classics like ‘Fight The Power’ and ‘Bring The Noise’ it was clear the crowd were loving the leg-stomping antics of Flava Flav. One particular highlight came when they had the SW4 faithful throw their ‘V’s in the air in support of their continued fight for peace and equality, with the crowd more then happy to oblige as DJ Lord went into his own mash up of Nirvana’s festival favourite ‘Smells Like Teen Spirit’. An early highlight and this was only our first act of the day…
Away from the main stage and on to Pete Tong and his gazebo full of House enthusiasts there were sets from heavyweights including the brilliant Eats Everything and equally blissful sounds of Maya Jane Coles and Dyed Soundsystem working everyone up into a shape cutting euphoria. Crowds were plentiful and the general vibe was one of an Ibiza-esque celebration, with the minimal sounds of 4×4 drum patterns enveloping the crowd Miss Coles inparticular was a set to remember, manipulating the crowd with some blissful breakdowns,its those deep signature tones that have made her such a household favourite amongst the House scene.
Closer to the main stage it was Andy C’s Ram Records projecting the high-intensity vibes for the dedicated skankers, blaring out an assortment of drum and bass and dubstep frivolities throughout the day. Being the signature sound of the past decade, the Arena was expectedly rammed for the entirety of the event showcasing UKF mainstays such as Flux Pavilion and Delta Heavy. An area of the festival always guaranteed to bring an andrenaline fuelled smile/gurn to the face.
Back over at the commercially approved main stage the king of all things danceable and one half of Major Lazer otherwise known as Diplo made his anticipated arrival on to the common and right on que let loose with a barage of Dancehall infused breakdowns complimented with his signature twist of Hip-Hop and house. Dropping serious summer anthems like Kanye West’s ‘Mercy’ and his own Major Lazer anthem ‘Original Don’ the producer managed to top it by jumping into the crowd…inside a giant beach ball. The dude put on a barnstormer of a show and for that produced the set of the day.
On to the next one and this time Croydon’s Skream & Benga recieved a raptuous reception in their efforts to keep the momentum going by the Sunday gathering, not least for their track selections, but also due to some crowd participation that incorporated a child. Whilst the infant jiggled andbounced around wildly on stage, crowdmembers mirrored his movements producing a horde of 5-going-on-30 year olds in the audience for a song or two. The South Londoners have come a long way in the last year or so, with their set’s evolving with the times. Gone are the days of Dubstep-heavy experiences as they now opt for a raspy mix of Electro, Garage and Redlight-esque Funky to entertain revellers. In a few simple words, they simply smashed it.
After making a brief visit over to the hugely adored and uplifting 4/4 sounds of Seth Troxler, who seemed so comfortably in his element to a hugely packed Pete Tong tent, we made our way over the headline show. Make no secret about it, we here at ATB are not the biggest fans of Skrillex. In fact we save little time for him at all. BUT as the headliner (and by the fact that no one else was left on by this point) we decided to give him his chance.
Raised up on a mystifying spacecraft with lazers and pyrotechnics to send anyone into an epileptic frenzy, the triple grammy winner was out to ensure no one could match his eyesore of a show. Having said that, he surprised us all with a barnstorming selection of muscular, 2-step bass that blended commendably with his splattered dubstep riffs his die hard followers undoubtedly came to savour.
Are DJ’s like Skrillex the new rock stars? On this evidence their not far off it.