When Above & Beyond were announced for South West Four this year, fans rejoiced as the DJ trio were set to return to their hometown, after making some serious waves of joy from their 50th Group Therapy show in Alexandra Palace last year. The performance they put on was incredible, so expectations were set high. It was our first trip to South West Four this year, despite the festival having been run for ten years now, so we expected something truly spectacular.
As we arrived, crowds of people swarmed around the bars, of which there were nowhere near enough. People queued for quite a while to get a drink, despite a can of warm beer or cider being at the £5 mark, up on the average festival prices this year and without ice or a quick service.
South West Four consists of four stages, and the one seeming to attract the largest crowd when we arrived was Loco Dice on the DJ Mag stage. In fact, while we could hear some seriously cool Techno pounding out of what is arguably the best sound system across the four arenas, we couldn’t actually get in to check it out properly. While many of the other stages, including the main stage failed to attract large crowds, Loco Dice was clearly someone who deserved to be on the Main Stage at this time.Source: Gemma Bell Source: Gemma Bell Source: Gemma Bell Source: Gemma Bell
While the general organisation of the festival wasn’t that great, with the sporadic line-up and busy bars, it was great to see free drinking water on offer everywhere, keeping festival goers safely hydrated throughout the day. The food was great too, however at £7+ for some basic nachos, it didn’t come cheaply.
We headed over to the Last Day on Earth stage, presented by Sasha where Booka Shade were putting on a great performance. This was the stage with in our opinion, one of the best line-ups of the day. Unfortunately, the sound quality was really poor. Unless you were right at the front of the stage, you could hardly hear the sound travelling and certainly missed out on any heavy bass. Despite this, Booka Shade managed to pull the cat out the bag and deliver a great live performance that ended with an explosive version of their mammoth hit, Body Language, a popular track from a few years ago when Electro House was booming. They did finish fifteen minutes early though, which did confuse everyone a little. Perhaps the line-up of the day had been re-shuffled.Source: Gemma Bell Source: Gemma Bell Source: Gemma Bell Source: Gemma Bell
Next up was the almighty Seth Troxler. As the heavens opened, the crowd flocked into the tent as Seth took to the stage. Most of the people in here looked like they were just here for shelter, and unfortunately not to see Seth perform. While he played some great tracks, accompanied by the weird and wonderful visuals Seth likes to bring with him on the screen behind (including a regular appearance of Prince), the sound really let this down and forced us to head back to the DJ Mag stage, where Tiga vs Audion were playing an equally well-received set. The crowd here were much more active, dancing to the music and not stood around in shelter from the rain!
As we moved around the festival, the atmosphere seemed a bit bland. People were wondering around looking slightly confused, perhaps because the tents offered more of a line-up than the main stage, but were hard to access. The one thing we found most notable is the large quantity of Above & Beyond t-shirts people were wearing. It was very clear why people were at this festival, to see the almighty trio take to the stage.
As we waited for Alesso to grace the main stage, we went over to The Gallery stage to check out Aly & Fila. We hadn’t had a chance to check this arena out before, as it was so small, but were finally able to get in, and it was worth it! Not only was the sound incredible, but the duo from Egypt managed to keep the crowd electric as they performed a flawless Trance set, including a few vocal tracks that saw much of the crowd singing along. We honestly believe everyone was here for the music, making the Aly & Fila set the best of the day.Source: Gemma Bell
Alesso stood up to the main stage as the stage production started to come to life. When we say came to life, we mean as best as it could. There seemed to have been a low-budget spent on the production throughout the festival. Half-assed efforts to the surroundings, visuals, sound and the light rig meant it didn’t have that extra magical touch that we all expect at modern Electronic music festivals. The stages seemed to be more geared towards a band, as opposed to DJ line-up. When you have a DJ, we feel it’s important to give the production behind them something more than just a few basic lights and a large TV screen. Alesso even said as he took to the main stage, “The sound here is shit, but you guys are loud, right?” We couldn’t have agreed more.
At 20:40 the lasers finally came on, but without the impact we had hoped. There wasn’t many and they didn’t seem as bright as at other festivals we’ve seen this year. This didn’t stop Above & Beyond entering the stage to perform one hell of a show, however. While Above & Beyond consists of three members, Jono, Paavo and Tony, Tony was nowhere to be seen. We didn’t see Paavo either when they played at Tomorrowland, so perhaps there have been some fallouts between Tony and Paavo recently, as we can’t think of any other plausible explanation.
Above & Beyond played a couple of new tracks, including Blue Sky Action and Sticky Fingers, which saw everyone singing as the crowd illuminated for a truly magical moment. Walter White also hit the screen, as Breaking Bad-inspired visuals of his alter-ego, Heisenberg made to the stage. Much of the rest of their set was almost identical to what we saw at the 50th Group Therapy and their set at Tomorrowland. We imagine it would have been great for those seeing them for the first time, but for a lot of loyal returners, we didn’t see much new.
As the windy weather died down, the sound quality picked up, making for a great ending to the day. We just wished that more had been invested into the minor details behind South West Four, such as the production, which would have made the experience so much better. We headed home, where Facebook filled with videos of Creamfields, where the other half of Hit The Floor’s electronic team were. It looked so much better.
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Tale Of UsSource: Gemma Bell Source: Gemma Bell Source: Gemma Bell Source: Gemma Bell