It’s been said that you haven’t really experienced a music festival until you’ve been to one in the UK. After experiencing the shenanigans at South West Four in August, I think it’s safe to say that it is definitely the case.
The weekend started with an early morning train ride to London on a sunny Saturday morning. That the sun was out was already a fantastic start to the Bank Holiday weekend and allayed any fears that we had of paying the £99 each and having our parade rained on. We’d bought the tickets while still living in South Africa so the exchange rate made it rather expensive.
From London’s Liverpool Street Station it was a tube ride to Clapham Common, the scene of our epic weekend, and then a bus to our accommodation, a cheap hotel that had the essentials. All that was left now was to get ready, have a drink on the way and then back to Clapham Common.
We had no idea what to expect except for what we’d seen in promotional material and the after-movie from last year. When we saw the realised the scale of the event from the outside of the high steel walls surrounding the venue we figured it would be big. The drug amnesty bins right outside the entrance also told us something. There was going to be raving.
The first thing we did on arrival was scout for set times. Instead of forking out for a lanyard with the set times, a total waste, it was a quick scout to each banner outside the various stages to snap a photo of the schedule. Then we planned. The first two hours were fairly chilled, there weren’t any acts we really wanted to see so it was more a case of getting drinks and chilling out and just taking it all in.
The first big act of the day that got our attention was the Swedish duo, Galantis. Not being a massive fan of their stuff, barring one track, I wasn’t sure how it was going to be but I was pleasantly surprised. The production was pretty epic and by the time they played their smash-hit Runaway (U & I) there was a proper vibe. And there were goosebumps when they played a tribute to Avicii.
The other act we’d really looked forward to was MK and he certainly delivered, playing all the tracks that the crowd were after. His track Piece of Me featuring Becky Hill had been part of the advertising content so naturally the crowd went wild when he dropped it.
The highlight on the opening day was Jax Jones on the main stage. His set was fun, had all the good jams and he also seemed to be enjoying himself which always goes a long way in getting the crowd going. His visuals were also really cool and added to the show.
Rain. Not the best thing to wake up to. And it was continuous, showing no signs of stopping. Being slightly underprepared for a British festival we weren’t really sure how to proceed. After a bit of a lie-in we decided to find breakfast and then make a call.
After debating whether we should even go through for day two we eventually bit the bullet and went. Thank goodness we did because it was well worth it. Even if we only ended up back at Clapham Common for a couple of hours.
It was mainly to see Chase & Status. That was the only reason. What had been green grass was now a muddy swamp as we trudged through the gates. The rain had cleared but it had left its mark on the festival. People were muddied, trainers ruined and discarded plastic ponchos joining plastic cups on the ground.
After milling about for a bit, watching some of Nora en Pure’s set and heading to the bar we finally got what we were after in the from of an epic set from Chase & Status. Right from the opening track they had us hooked and they really were amazing as they played all the stuff we knew. Some of it even included the lyricists featured on the various tracks. Sadly though, there was no Tom Grennan for All Goes Wrong but that was a definite highlight when it was played. Again, as had been the theme throughout, the visuals were unreal and definitely added to it all.
If someone had to ask if I’d go to South West Four again I’d probably say yes. There were enough artists who I like on the lineup to entice me to buy tickets and they definitely delivered. The one thing I was pretty disappointed in was the blatant drug use that we witnessed throughout. I know it was to be expected but some people just had no problem with pulling out little plastic bags of cocaine or popping pills into their mouths which was a bit of a downer. If you are into that sort of thing then cool. But when it starts to take away from the vibe of the people around you, as it did when we had one guy who was clearly off his face and tripping balls just hanging onto us, then it’s a problem.
All in all it was a really fun weekend in London.