The highlights of South West Four Festival 2019

Abi White | 7th September 2019

As the last bank holiday of 2019 rolled around, revellers psyched themselves up for a summer scorcher to remember in Clapham Common, London for South West Four festival. Armed with sunscreen, glitter and donning their best raving gear, 20,000 dance music fans descended on the fields during the hottest bank holiday on record.


Host to a plethora of talent within the electronic dance music scene, South West Four recruited the hottest names in the world right now. From global phenomenon, Martin Garrix, playing the closing show on the Saturday, to heavy bass music legends, Pendulum, taking the slot on Sunday, the standard of artists would be a tough one for any other dance music festival to trump.


Whilst other festivals focus on theatricals and set design, South West Four seem to roll with a ‘no frills attached’ kind of attitude. With stages named 1-5 and no themes or installations, the festival does lack in character and personality. However, with a star-studded line up it’s clear the budget is focused on other things; it doesn’t seem to put the ravers off either as they sell out the entire weekend.


The heat was truly blistering, with tents turning into saunas as a cloud of mist (sweat) hung a foot or so above everyone’s heads whilst they skanked along to Benny L’s naughty bass lines. Powering through what felt like a sweaty hour gym session, we took some refuge in the minimal amounts of shades by the fences before heading over to witness what Shy FX had to offer.


Photo: Mike Portlock

Blasting out the summer hits ‘Shake Ur Body’ and reggae-driven ‘Who Knows’, Shy FX also had some very special guests up his sleeve to ensure he bagged the most talked-about performance. Emerging in a tie-dye T-shirt and a dark-haired bob, fans squinted to work out who the mystery figure was, which all became clear as he plunged into ‘Roll The Dice’, with Lily Allen gracing the stage with her immediately identifiable sweet and soulful vocals. The ‘Original Nuttah’ also sent the crowd wild, as Uk Apache hit all the spots with his ageless ‘munumaas’ to celebrate Shy FX’s recent release ‘Original Nuttah 25’. Shy FX went above and beyond just a DJ set and captivated the audience with his impeccable mixing, special guest appearances and stage presence.


Another stand-out performance came from that of drum and bass legend, Wilkinson, who delivered a faultless live set with a full band in tow. Also bringing out a special guest, Karen Harding made an appearance for their tune together ‘All For You’, whilst also assisting with other vocal led tracks throughout the set. It was an invigorating set, with twists and turns along the way as they powered through a proud Wilkinson’s top tunes including the likes of ‘Afterglow’, which provided the perfect soundtrack to the early summer evening.


As the temperature began to become bearable (after a 33 degree day), we caught DJ Zinc and Redlight who put on an insane b2b show which played out to be one of the greatest sets of the weekend. Tearing through their drum and bass, garage and house classics, it’s a combination that shouldn’t really work, but does so incredibly well.


Photo: Mike Portlock

Heading over to catch Chase and Status afterwards, we were faced with an overcrowded tent spilling at the seams with no crowd control. Disappointed, we trundled to the grass next to the tent and just sat down to listen. As one of the biggest acts on the line-up, they should have been allocated a main stage slot earlier in the day to accommodate the masses who had shown for the duo. At least it meant we could get to the main stage early to get a spot for Pendulum’s highly anticipated closing set.


Hyped up on social media platforms by the group as a ‘live set’, the hardcore drum and bass fans were over the moon as live sets are a rarity from the group. However, to their dismay they were met with a DJ set with Rob Swire singing over a handful of tunes, and even forgetting the lyrics to his own song on one occasion. This was slightly disheartening and felt as though the set was lacking. Despite this, it’s undeniable that Pendulum delivered an industrial masterclass with their twisted neurofunk, but it just needed a little something else for a closing performance.


Although the stages could do with a little sprucing up for next year’s festival, South West Four managed to pull one of the best electronic dance music festival line-ups in the UK this year and we already can’t wait to get our rave on again next year.