This may have been my fourth time at the festival but every year I attend, I’m in awe. We go to see our favourite artists, discover new ones, and meet people who have travelled from other cities – an all-round, feel-good festival!
Day 1 had a strong line up of DJ’s and singers that had me feeling nostalgic; Craig David, Ms Dynamite and Basement Jaxx, artists who I first discovered when I was younger. First thing I did when I got inside the festival was run straight to the glitter face paint stall then headed to the main stage. I’d made it in time for Tinie Tempah’s impressive headline set, where he played all his classics, such as 'Passout', 'Earthquake' and some more recent tracks. Tinie Tempah was a natural showman on the stage, having us all chant his lyrics word-for-word.
Switching from stage to stage, I made sure I was in the midst of the crowd just before the special guest, Idris Elba came out. And of course, half of the festival had the same idea as the tent was jam-packed!
The actor slash DJ has toured across the country, playing at multiple events so I was looking forward to his hour-long set at the Ministry of Sound stage, but it was sadly anticlimactic. The transitions felt a bit hurried and all over the place, leaving me a little disappointed. However, it wasn’t all bad as he played a few tunes we all loved, dashed a bit of garage and did his popular ‘Boasty’ song.
After his headline performance in 2015, SW4 welcomed Dutch DJ, Martin Garrix, back as he headlined Saturday and closed the night with an explosive, fireworks-fuelled show, leaving everyone on a high, excited for the following day.
Wearing my sequined top, I fitted in with the usual festival attire - ladies wearing glitter and neon outfits, whilst lads were in shades and stripy shirts, all ready for round 2. As it was my first time doing a whole weekender, I didn’t think day 2 could be even more impressive!On the main stage was Plan B, who gave an energetic performance, getting all us hyped especially during his protest song ‘iLL Manors’. This was followed by DJ, ShyFX, who brought out a surprise ensemble crew; Lily Allen, Ghetts and UK Apache. Over at the Capital Xtra tent, where performers like Chip, Ms Banks and Wretch 32 played, I managed to catch the last half of Wiley’s set and wish I’d been there from the start! Wiley took us back in time, to the late noughties, incorporating many of the BBK members’ songs into the performance. Playing his solo singles as well as collaborations, the Grime artist had the whole arena shouting along to the quintessential BBK song, ‘Too Many Man’.
Although I went alone, there’s always friendly vibes at festivals so I didn’t feel lonely. I bumped into old friends and made new ones in the crowd, at the bar, even in the loos! I ended up staying with a group who led me near the front of the main stage – where all the action was. TQD’s DJ went along the front row, giving out merchandised bandanas while Andy C’s hypeman hydrated the crowd by throwing water bottles. So essentially, get to the front if you want freebies!
Wilkinson stole the show for me with his live DJ set. He was accompanied by a string quartet, drummers and vocalists, who put on an amazing show together.
In addition to the spectacular line up, SW4 made sure attendees were constantly entertained throughout; fairground rides, numerous food stalls and a very plush VIP area with dancing bartenders!
The night came to an end as Australian drum and bass band, Pendulum, took to the stage. With exciting visuals, their long-awaited performance which they named ‘Trinity’ was met with a lot of fan love. Lasers, smoke, flames, pyrotechnics – you name it, Pendulum had it! It was also very touching that the trio played ‘Firestarter’ by The Prodigy, in honour of the late, Keith Flint. Pendulum closed the show with their hit song, ‘Watercolour’ and a ton of fireworks in the air, celebrating what was an unforgettable weekend of music. Whether you’re a teen or in your mid-50s, whether you know the line up or not - South West Four has proved to be the most eventful, inclusive and atmospheric, British festival I’ve attended. Despite cans of red stripe constantly being tossed in the air, multiple mosh pits and a few bruises on my legs, I’ll certainly be back again next summer.