Strolling through the gates of Clapham Common’s South West Four festival, you’d never guess you we were in London. With 32-degree sunshine hammering down, the crowds swarming into the festival gates wore attire to suit the weather. Think tiny dresses, short shorts and summery crop tops. You could have been walking through a festival somewhere like Croatia or Spain, not England at the tail-end of August.
One of the longer-standing and most famous of the London day festivals, crowds were in for a treat with South West Four’s Saturday line-up featuring big-name DJs such as Martin Garrix, Craig David, and Disciples to name a few. The following Sunday saw the likes of Pendulum, Andy C, and Chase & Status hit the decks.
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The first act of the day was chart-topping Dutch DJ Bakermat who was spinning his tunes on the outdoor main stage. Despite the heat, the crowds were already bouncing along to the feel-good hits, including the catchy ‘Don’t Want You Back’. Teamed with entrancing cartoon visuals and dramatic flames, the upbeat performance was the perfect way to to get a taste of the SW4 experience.
A favourite among the crowds, ‘Games Continued’ saw the inclusion of a saxophone performance, a welcome treat that threw a bit of variety to the set.
Then, it was time to brave the hot and sticky tent hosted by Ministry of Sound where London-based electro-house trio Disciples had taken to the decks. As expected, the jam-packed enclosure seemed to resemble a rainforest with the intense humidity. But, this didn’t deter many to worm their way to the front for a better view and sound.
The trio sure knew how to work their audience, bombarding them a selection of their hits such as the renowned ‘How Deep is Your Love’ collaboration with Calvin Harris, along with plenty of head-spinning remixes, including S.O.S Band’s ‘Just be good to me’.
Leaving the Ministry of Sound tent, it seemed bizarre to find that it was still daylight outside and a whole lot cooler, having grown accustomed to the moody lighting and tropical-like conditions of the tent.
With twenty minutes or so left of Craig David’s TS5 set in the indoor main stage, many headed over in the hopes of catching a couple of songs. But, in approaching the enclosure it soon became clear nobody would be getting anywhere close to Mr Popular himself – the crowds were spilling far out of the tent. It was heaving.
This didn’t deter those unlucky few however, and embracing the cooler air most opted to boogie along to ‘When You Know What Love Is’ with the rest of the fans that couldn’t squeeze into the tent.
It was time to brave the cave once again, returning to the Ministry of Sound tent to check out Anti Up, comprising of duo Chris Lorenzo and Chris Lake. A remix of Basement Jaxx's renowned dance track ‘Where’s Your Head At?’ went down well with the swarms, who were letting loose - dancing away until the end of the set and the closing of the tent.
With all the indoor tents finishing up, the remaining festival-goers all migrated toward the outdoor main stage for the final act of the day – it could only be the almighty Dutch hit-spinner Martin Garrix.
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Everyone was in high spirits as the well-known hits came thick and fast, with the air still warm amongst the heaving crowds. It’s a novelty feeling being able to sing along to almost every tune during a set, yet Martin Garrix provided that.
A remix of Florence and the Machine’s popular ‘You’ve Got the Love’ heightened the fans. Then, Martin's collaboration with Bebe Rexha ‘In the Name of Love’ amplified the emotion and prompted the mandatory slow, waving arms.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Martin Garrix performance without a spin of ‘Scared to be Lonely’ – an instantly recognisable chart-topping hit of the highest proportions.
Likewise, the aptly-named ‘Summer Days’ was the ideal tune to dance to on a perfect summer’s day in the London sun.
Completing its fifteenth year in the game, South West Four has cemented its place in the August Bank Holiday weekend and shows no sign of giving it up. Securing such big-name talent in the dance industry, it’s no surprise that the regulars keep returning for more. The question is – which big-name stars will be taking centre stage next year?
Words: Ellie Swain / Image: SW4 Festival