Festival Report: SW4 2014

This August Bank Holiday weekend was a huge one for live music with festivals happening up and down the country. Luckily for me, I only had to travel a few steps to get to Clapham Common for the mighty SW4. Arriving on the Saturday in the sunshine, I was surrounded by happy smiley faces, many with flower garlands in their hair and glitter on their cheeks.

The Common had been transformed by circus-style tents, a number of rather terrifying looking fairground rides and the mighty main stage, complete with huge pyrotechnics and incredible visuals.

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Kicking my festival experience off with a tour of the site, we popped into sets from Magda, Booka Shade, Tiga and Seth Troxler. Feeling a bit more warmed up, we were ready to be at the main stage for the headline act of the day, Above & Beyond. The DJ duo really got the crowd going with a huge set featuring many of their biggest hits from Sticky Fingers to Thing Called Love, with a number of other tracks from DJs like Paul Oakenfold mixed in to keep us on our toes.

If the crowd wasn’t excited enough by this point, the incredible fireworks at the end were definitely enough to make everyone realise this wasn’t just any normal performance. You can relive the whole thing (or pretend that you were a part of it) by clicking here.

Sunday was a slightly slower start, as you may imagine, and with slightly aching legs from all the previous day’s dancing I was worried that the second day would be an anti-climax. How wrong I was.

We entered the site just as Wilkinson took to the stage. One of my highlights of the whole weekend was their final track, the huge ‘Afterglow’ featuring vocals from Becky Hill. The singer sashayed on stage in a beautiful gold and black ensemble to join the DJs and their MC. The song, which has to be one of the anthems of 2014, got the whole crowd together with arms in the air, girls on shoulders and a mass singalong. With the sun still out it was a beautiful moment that I think both performers and fans will remember for a long time to come.

Taking a break to do another quick look around the site, soaking up the infectious atmosphere, we found ourselves in the red and white striped Speakerbox tent just as Just Blaze started up.

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I have to admit, I had not heard of Just Blaze before, but he really caught our attention. Doing a bit of quick research, it turns out that Just Blaze is an American hip hop producer who has worked with the likes of Jay-Z and Eminem. His grime/hip hop set was packed with hits from a plethora of artists, from Blinded By The Light from The Streets to samples including If You’re Happy And You Know It. But it was when Lethal Bizzle bounded onto stage that the crowd really went crazy. Just a fantastic experience.

Feeling a little out of breath after dancing our way out of the tent it was time to head over to the Dream, Don’t Sleep tent to see London-born Maya Jane Coles up on the decks with a beautiful backdrop of flashing, sparkling lights. She was followed by the headline act for this stage, Maceo Plex. I’ve seen Maceo Plex play a number of times but to see the tent so packed out and so many people so keen to see the DJ was just brilliant. He really seemed to be bouncing from the crowd’s energy and it was one of the best sets I’ve seen in a while.

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However, we had to tear ourselves away to get straight back to the main stage. It was time for us to see Deadmau5. Wow. I’m really into my dance music, and I really appreciate a good DJ set. Seeing the superstar DJ in the flesh was simply mindblowing. One of my all-time favourite songs is Raise Your Weapon and to see the iconic mouse ears lit up from the lights surrounding the decks was another real moment for me.

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It was my first year at SW4 but I really hope it won’t be my last. I loved the atmosphere, I loved the ease of getting onto the site and I loved the fact that so many DJs from all over the world were playing in my local park. The crowd was fun and happy, the DJs all seemed to be just as excited as their fans and the layout of the festival was just so easy to get around. If you like a party, and this all sounds like your kind of thing, then SW4 really is the one for you.