|Date: Saturday 26th August 2006
Clapham Common, London
Hours: 12noon Ė 9pm
Ticket Price: £30
Dress Code: None
|I just love festivals on Clapham Common. Itís probably my favourite time of the year. SW4 is a big festival and is growing fast. All 20,000 tickets were sold out in advance and the line-up was superb; Tong, Oakenfold, Cox, Digweed, Lawler, Fergie, Picotto, Jules, Fergie, Kleinenberg, Tall Paul, Zabiela, Fontaine, Mills...the list goes on! There were 3 tents (The Galleryís hard dance tent, the Essential Selection tent and the Ibiza Underground) plus the main outdoor stage, which were all situated close together, so you donít have too far to walk. Global is widely regarded as the best festival for dance music, and while I agree, I like the comparative smallness of SW4. Not as many stalls, no fairground, not as far to walk, youíre not in as much danger of missing someone due to time clashes. Not as many distractions, just the music and the people, hence the very bust tents!
I thought it was really friendly with a great atmosphere as soon as we got in. Thereís something really nice about it being a daytime festival; it brings the clubbers out of the dark rooms and into the sunshine! You can actually talk to people such as the green jumper enthusiast, or the Italian girls without going deaf, while still loving the tunes! Itís also such a novelty going home at 9 pm when everyone else is just getting ready to go out, instead of the soul destroying 7am madness!
When we arrived at about 14:45 the queue for ticket holders to get in was astronomical!! Honestly, it made the Fabric queue on a Friday look like fun! Nevermind, Mr Oakenfold was just dropping that first tune on the main outdoor stage as we queued, and made us eager to get in.
Ok, before we go any further, today I am in defence of the big boys!! Iíve heard Oaky get slaughtered this past fortnight for THAT Essential Mix, and yeah it was a poor effort; also read critics of Jules recently too in various magazines, but both today were excellent.
There was a huge crowd there for Oakenfold, and there was one fantastic moment. It was quite cloudy and then he dropped The Egg (the Citroen advert tune) and exactly as the bleepy riff came in, the sun just split the skies wide open! The crowd roared their approval and Oaky pointed towards the heavens! How did he do that? I knew it! The Cream people were right all those years ago, he really is god afterall! Just joking of course!
That Egg tune is the biggest tune of the year by such a distance, you hear it time and again but it still gets a huge reaction. A new remix of Faster Killer Pussycat also got a huge welcome, itís a top tune! It was so nice dancing in the sun at 3 in the afternoon, with a huge crowd, all smiles, very friendly, beachballs flying everywhere. Itís almost like being on holiday! However, we had dallied outside long enough, it was time to explore!
Into the hard dance tent we went, just about! Then the heat! Wow! It nearly knocked you out. Got to say, all the tents were so difficult to get into; they couldíve easily been twice the size. Jules was playing to this packed arena and while Iíve never been a huge Judge Jules fan, you have to give him credit. He had the place rocking, and it was a very good set. He interacts with the crowd all the time, which is a nice touch, and he obviously enjoys it.
I really wanted to see Mauro Picotto who was on after Jules. Iíve seen the lizard man many times but tonight I was very disappointed. Firstly, the sound was abysmal; it seemed like it was just bass, then it went very very quiet. We went to the front to see if it was louder but no! They had turned the monitors round to face the crowd and thatís more or less all you could hear! Anyway, the packed tent thinned out quite a bit, as Picotto played his usual techno style, but itís hard to judge him (no pun intended) as the sound was diabolical. We needed to cool down anyway, so after some refreshments, we went back outside and caught Sander Kleinenberg play his This Is London tune! Very popular!
Tall Paul then came on the stage for half an hour, and he did a good job keeping it flowing, belting out some big electro and house numbers. Comedy moment of the day!! Tall Paul was a mobile DJ today, literally! As John Digweedís crew wheeled on his equipment, Tall Paul plus decks were wheeled off to the side whilst still DJing! Bizarre! Diggers with shades on, was quality as usual, playing melodic and harder progressive house. I remember an excellent remix of Keaneís Is It Any Wonder going down very well. We then took a trip up to see Pete Tong, and yet again the tent was almost inaccessible!
Laptop out, he had the place rocking with tunes by Eric Prydz v Pink Floyd, The Egg, Moby, MasonÖ I couldíve quite happily watched all his set but it was almost time for Carl Cox on the main stage. We saw Cox close HiFi South and he blew the tent apart, so we had to see him again.
We think heís funny! He rocks sideways, backwards and forwards clearly loving it, and occasionally talking on the mic! All the other tents closed an hour before the main stage so eventually there was 20,000 in front of him! He was banging it out again, then the lasers came on as it got dark. But wait! What came next was ridiculous!
It was such a nice day, then it started to rain; ok a bit of rain never hurt anyone. This rain then developed very quickly into what has to be the heaviest rain shower in the history of the United Kingdom! A huge cheer went up to greet the deluge, and it was like someone had turned a tap on! Dancing in a now saturated muddy field to banging techno was a new experience! I think the ferocity of it even through Cox a little! Those who mocked my rain jacket were not so smug now!
Bang on 9pm we had to make for the exits, after a thoroughly enjoyable day, and it was off home to watch Match of the Day, or if you had the energy, the Afterparty featuring Armin Van Buuren et al. The music, the crowd and the DJs were all brilliant today, but it was probably the weather that got the two biggest cheers! Sunday promised to be another good day for those lucky enough to return for Get Loaded In The Park, but due to incisor problems, it wasnít for me.
Sound System: 7
Total: 34 / 40
Rating: Gold Award
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