South West Four 2011 review

Overall: 7/10

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Offering Underworld’s London show this summer and Pendulum’s last swing into town until 2013, South West Four 2011 already has its big guns loaded and ready to march over Clapham Common.

Thanks to some awful August weather too, the site already resembles a battleground and the gates only opened 45 minutes ago. Luckily this isn’t a full-blown campaign like Glastonbury, simply a couple of mini-battles from midday until 9pm with added after parties for the real troopers.

It’s only 1pm and Loco Dice (6/10) is already spinning in the Cocoon tent. Even though it’s early, the place is heaving as people escape the downpour outside, but his minimal house exploits are too quiet making it difficult to really get into. It’s not just his fault either, the volumes in the tents struggle across the weekend.

Over on the main stage Pete Tong (8/10) reminds everyone just why he has been a constant pillar in dance for 20 years. The sound is better and despite the occasional bit of rain, everyone is smiling and dancing as he plays a collection of old and new tunes ending with Gui Boratto’s ‘Beautiful Life’.

Next up James Zabiela (7/10) delivers his trademark audio wizardry in a hectic blur of golden locks and frantic arms. Not happy just using a wealth of DJ equipment, he also pulls out an iPad to perform effects during his bouncy set, much to the crowd’s delight.

Maybe because it’s been a while since Underworld (9/10) played in the capital, but the group really let (what’s left of) their hair down for a rousing headline set on Saturday. The roar of the hoard punctuates this space-eyed spectacle, nearly drowning out ‘Two Months Off’ with punters singing it back. As the sun finally sets and all the stage lights glare out, they whirl predictably into closer ‘Born Slippy’, guaranteeing a tube sing-along for those heading to the after parties.

With much better weather on Sunday, Simian Mobile Disco (8/10) deliver an illustrious set with lots of big beat tunes and electro business, the crowd lapping it up.

The audience is a little more disgruntled in the Last.FM tent where all the talk of Richie Hawtin (6/10) and his M-nus label cohorts is ironically what he has to compete with. The sound just doesn’t kick it, making those here for a bloody chinwag louder than his set itself.

As the night falls it’s Pendulum’s (8/10) turn to rock out, the air thick with excitement. A massive introduction stings into ‘Salt In The Wounds’ and they’re off, leaving no part of the stage un-scuffed with their throbbing electro n bass unrelenting. It’s a show worthy of a Sunday night head-clouder with a growling ‘Voodoo People’ and triumphant ‘Blood Sugar’ both punishing.
For those with a thirst for the finest electronica around, South West Four 2011 offers it all. Plus without any camping around, there’s a chance to get a decent shower, soft bed and proper breakfast each morning too. It’s just a shame they need to turn it up a little in the tents.