There are few, if any, reasons to go to Clapham. Full of middle class twenty-somethings whose parents couldn’t afford to buy them a place in South Ken, it creaks at the seams with overpriced, underwhelming pubs, restaurants and clubs. It does, however, have one saving grace: SW4 festival.
SW4 has been described as a sort of antidote to Ibiza. For those who can’t or won’t spend the staggering sums necessary to make the most of the white island, the festival acts as a halfway house, offering a selection of the island’s most famous residents on one patch for a catch-all price. Factor in the preponderance of cheap booze, the bank holiday sunshine and the distinct lack of RyanAir, and you have a winning combination.
This years lineup definitely set tongues wagging early, with tickets selling out in record time. Everybody wanted a piece of the action, and with said action including a rejuvenated David Guetta, James Zabiela, Dubfire, Eric Prydz, Nick Fanciulli and innumerable others, it’s hardly surprising. Devotees of London’s much-missed nightclub The End were also buying tickets en masse, owing to their hosting of the Shake It tent and the presence of End stalwarts Layo and Bushwaka! on the lineup.
It is fair to say that SW4 didn’t disappoint. Crowds raved away in the belting sunshine all afternoon and every DJ earned their salt. Particular praise should be singled out for Dubfire, who made a great fist of his Shake It set despite a council-enforced noise embargo rendering the bassline practically inaudible. Eric Prydz produced a typically polished display, but could have done without the offensively bad MC’ing. If I want to be told that a DJ is ‘IN THE HOUUUUUUSE’, I’ll ride the Waltzer at my nearest fairground, thanks.
Other than that, the only let-down of the day were the ludicrously understaffed bars, which rendered getting a drink nigh on impossible at times. Water, however, was plentifully available, with bottles being refilled on demand from portable tanks.
SW4 has come a long way in recent years. Moving away from the Hard House scene and more into the trendier, classier, altogether better environs of techno, it has evolved into one of the Europe’s premier dance music events. It’s no EXIT, admittedly, but you won’t find much better on these shores.