You've got to hand it to the London day ravers - sometimes said to be lightweights looking for an easy ride, this South West Four crowd proved their hardcore status when a near apocalyptic rain shower exploded over Clapham Common on Sunday, August 29th just when the dance event was getting going. Kissy Sell Out had been working the main stage crowd with his upbeat tunes veering from house to electro and back again to enliven those keen to get to the event early then suddenly a little drizzle turned into a full-on downpour. Many sheltered under the nearby tree creating a packed space, while others opted for the safety of the tented arenas. Sadly for me, the best option by the time I was looking for a covered area was running all the way to the other side of the site to get to the DJ Arena hosted by Carl Cox and Friends. Drenched and looking for a way past the crowd who had packed the tent's entrances up to the heavy flow of water dropping from the roof, the only way in was round the back leaving me soaked. From the safety of the tent it looked as though there would be no chance of getting back outside, though Dubfire's pumping techno proved a good distraction from the wetness.
Layo & Bushwacka! stepped up to the decks next, getting into their house grooves, and there seemed to be a break in the clouds outside. Sure enough, the rain had passed so I ventured outside. The ground was holding up well, as were spirits, so I headed back to the main stage where rap duo Salt 'n' Pepa were getting the crowd back in the mood for dancing outside thanks to Beyonce's "Put a Ring on It" and they moved onto "Whatta Man" and "Lets Talk About Sex" before crowning off their performance with an encore of classic hit "Push It". By now the sun had returned to really start drying off the wet ravers as Steve Aoki took over. The Dim Mak label boss was in a boisterous mood, slipping straight into hard-edge electro and keen to get on the microphone throughout. He thrust his arms in the air and screamed along with the vocals while bounding around the stage too - lapping up the blistering sunshine from the clear blue skies.
Steve Aoki was in a boisterous mood, slipping straight into hard-edge electro.
His set whizzed by and had brought a good vibe to SW4's al fresco dancefloor which Radio One DJ Zane Lowe tried to whip up to similar effect. Demanding we get our hands up to the monster summer single "It's Bigger Than Hip Hop", the blistering bass rumbled through the crowd a heads nodded in satisfaction. When Lowe asked to see our hands one too many times while prancing around behind the decks it becamse necessary to move elsewhere. Mixhell, made up of the former drummer of thrash metal band Sepultura Iggor Cavalera and his DJ wife Laima Leyton, were bashing the Together Arena into shape thanks to Cavalera's live drumming over big electro beats. It was refreshing to see live percussion at SW4 amid all the recorded drum loops, helping ensure Mixhell made a dramatic impression.
Back outside Herve took to the decks but the fairground rides proved too much of a distraction to get into the crowd while Armand Van Helden's house sounded disappointingly tired. Far better was Carl Cox's techno as it hit top gear and Adam Beyer's closing set as darkness fell outside. The pair laid on a meaty selection of techno full of energy. As the tents closed, it was left to Fatboy Slim to round off this year's South West Four Weekender - a two-day festival for the first time this year - with a mix of his own tunes such as "Praise You" and "Right Here, Right Now" remixed blended with house favourites. He lost out to Aoki for presence and the techno dons for pace, though the smiling masses who danced to the end were evidence of his enduring popularity. As the sound of Benny Benassi's "Satisfaction" had played during Fatboy Slim's set one SW4-goer had been waving an umbrella around only to take it down to enjoy the tune properly. It was much like the event as a whole - the rain came and the umbrellas went up but the ravers kept raving and when the sun came back they raved even harder. South West Four can be chuffed they had the dedicated dance crowd over the bank holiday weekend and will once again be highly anticipated next year.