August bank holiday, bringeth the rain and mud for it is festival weekend in the UK. On the date of the 27th I made my second trip of 2011 to Clapham Common, and as with my last visit, I was again attending a festival. But whereas the the Ben and Jerrys festival had been about scoffing my face with as much free ice cream as possible before colapsing in an unatractive dairy based heap, SW4 was about cutting all manner of shapes of a makeshift muddy dancefloor, much like in this video I took on the day …

… The jungle is massive, FACT!

The day actually passed by in a flash. We started with a couple of drinks in the O’Neils bar just round the corner from the common. This gave the girls a chance to use a normal toilet as they put it – fear of the porterloo’s. We then walked around to the common only to be comfronted with a monster queue which impressively stretched around 3 sides of the venue itself. It took about 30 mins of queing before we finally got in, and by the time we got in we learn’t it was time for another female toilet break.  Cue bored boyfriends playing on their phones for their girlfriends toilet break duration.

We did eventually get to the bar for some more juice, and then with cans in hand we set off exploring.  First of all we went to look around the market stalls where I purchased my 5th pair of sunglasses this year.  How I managed to break so many pairs of sunglasses, but my reading glasses remain in tact year on year is beyond me.  Typically as soon as I handed over my cash the sun wet in as the clouds gathered. 

SW4, Clapham Common

With rain impending we grabbed some delicious Thai food and headed to see Sub Focus in one of the various tents.  I always think that the tent decor must have been designed to freak people out, especially all those dropping … and there were plenty who were.  Whats with all the scary (yet impressive) spikey inflatables that line the tent ceiling?  

It was a good vibe in the tent, but Sub Focus didnt blow me away as I thought he might, the tent was also pretty empty by previous years standards.  In 2010 Jack Beats had people spilling out the sides of their tent. 

SW4, Clapham Common

Fairly confident that there was to be no more rain we later strolled down to the main stage as I wanted to see Magnetic Man.  Again, they were pretty uninspiring.  Maybe it was me, but they just didnt seem to get any atmosphere going.  I listen to their set at Creamfield this weekend just gone, and it sounded 10 x better than what we experienced.  Maybe thats open air venues for you – let all the sound and atmosphere escape.  Perfect Stranger was their only song worth noting on the day.

SW4, Clapham Common

SW4, Clapham Common

A couple of the group then decided to try go make themselves throw up via the waltzer.  I decided to try on some more of the main stage music.

SW4, Clapham Common

After what seemed like a very short day, the headline act Pendulum hit the stage and started blaring out their DnB noise fest.  I for one was loving it, and had I not been/still suffering from a very brittle knee I would have got right in amongst it.  Alas I am reduced to watching gigs from the sidelines for now (Chase & Status in Oct could be interesting) due to a rather nasty, red card offensive tackle I was subjected to whilst playing footy in June. 

Standing on the sidelines did allow me to appreciate the mega sunset that was falling on Clapham that eve.  I love a good sunset and am particuarly happy with the picture below, especially considering it was only taken with my iphone.

SW4, Clapham Common

That was my 4th year of SW4 in a row, and maybe its my last.  The ticket prices seem to keep rising, but the sound quality and standard of acts is possibly slipping.  Dont get me wrong, Pendulum were great, but there was no one else that I was desperate to see, whereas with previous years line ups I was spoilt for choice.  I guess I’ll wait and see what the line up is for next year before making a decision.

Verdict:  A great day festival and alternative to camping.  Easy to get to and from, and cheap in comparison to the other August Bank Holiday festivals (£40 roughly).  Sound quality can be hit and miss.  I’d base your decision to go upon the acts playing.