South West Four has now put on 3 sold-out events. Now, in this special 3rd year, they put on not one but two events - one in London, and one the day after in Cardiff. i:Vibes was in Cardiff to tell you all about the South West Four phenomenon...
:: South West Four 2006
:: Cooper's Fields, Cardiff
:: 27th August 2006
:: 12:00 - 23:00
We arrived in Cardiff at about 14:00 and found the place pretty quickly. The site was a beautiful bit of parkland right behind the grand and ornate Cardiff Castle. Entrance to the site was very straight forward. People were moving quickly and there wasn't an intimidating security presence, although thorough searching was taking place. This slick entry showed right from the start the high quality of the organisation, which, I'm happy to report, stayed high for the duration of the day.
Once 'through' and entering the main site, you were hit by an awesome feeling - the beats of music were coming at you, the sun was shining beautifully and you were surrounded by tall, volumous trees and castle walls. There was an enclosed and intimate feeling right away which was great and really added to the overall friendly atmosphere of the place. So yeah, that was one hell of a first impression!
We quickly made our way to the Main Stage where Armin van Buuren was playing. He was putting out some nice, deep tunes. Towards the end of his set, he spiced it up with new tracks by Randy Katana and also Divini & Warning's new tune '4LB'. Armin got a bit trancier and topped off his quality set with his lovely new track 'Love You More'.
The crowd were loving Armin!
We then made our way over to the 2nd Arena to see what was going on over there. We walked into to the busy, bustling and up close 'n' personal tent to find Tall Paul putting out the totally classic trancer Push - The Legacy! This was pretty awesome so we stayed for his set which progressed to deep, tough house and back to more lighter stuff which included a remix of Nalin & Kane's classic 'Beachball'. This was the first time I've seen Tall Paul live and I was very impressed!
Tall Paul playing in the packed out 2nd Arena
Towards the end of Tall Paul's set, the tent really started to get filled with people. Why? Mauro Picotto was up next. He kicked off with his customary "M-A-U-R-O-P-I-C-O-T-T-O-D-J-D-J" intro, then kicked off into some of his unique sounding, pounding techno. He did a nice mix into one of his age-old classics, 'Baguette', which was particularly enjoyable.
Things were getting a bit frenzied, so we grabbed a few drinks and chilled out on the grass in the sun. We couldn't be lazy for long though, so headed back over to the Main Stage to see the end of Steve Lawler's set and then Seb Fontaine. Seb played mellow, groovy, and uplifting house. It was great to listen to in the cool breeze accompanied by the summer sun. The crowd had some fun with some massive inflatable balls (and a torrent of smaller beachballs) which were thrown in to them, so that was a lot of fun to watch (and take part in!). Fontaine finished up with some dirtier electro house.
Seb Fontaine working his magic
Next up was Paul Oakenfold. He played chunky electro music which was very vocal. He pretty much kept it funky and it was nice and groovy in places. He dropped some nice tunes, which included a remix of a popular track by Queen and he also took the sound in a bit of a tribal direction for about 25 minutes too. It was a little bit too minimal in places for my liking though.
Once Oakey was done, Pete Tong stepped up and he was very well received by the crowd. He opened his set with a great track - a new remix of Pink Floyd's 'Another Brick In The Wall'. He kept going after that with mellowed out, proggy house but also kept everyone guessing a little by switching between cool house and tougher electro from time to time. His set contained lots of remixes of well known or classic tunes, what seemed like personal re-edits and also a lot of his own custom samples.
As the other two arenas were closing, John Digweed made his way onto the Main Stage, just as it was beginning to get dark. He played some quality deep progressive music, and as it was getting busier still infront of the stage, he kept on with his smooth, blended mixes. The tunes were almost hypnotic and he progressed the sound well making it tougher and more driving. This was a welcome change after what was a large amount of predominantly electro house. The slightly trancey essence of Digweed's music was perfect for that point in the evening.
John Digweed and his hypnotic progressive sounds
And for the finalé on the Main Stage. The big man himself, Carl Cox, stepped up to the decks - 15 minutes early! The powerful green lasers came out and shone patterns into the night sky and against the nearby trees. Various pyrotechnics were let off and all the while, Cox was putting out nice, fat and chunky tunes. The music was upbeat and active and was easily the best set of the night. He kept the electro techno sounds pumping and kept the crowd active with several goes on the mic.
Carl Cox kept the crowd in a frenzy
Still he kept the strong electro sounds coming, but these were broken up by a select few more mellow tracks which worked really well. The crowd lapped up every second of the awesome atmosphere. He played wicked tracks such as 'Alloy Mental' and 'S.O.S. (SvD Remix)', which just sounded extra special coming from the totally immense sound system they had there. It was incredibly loud and powerful, but also totally clear and defined. To finish the night, he ended on the more commercial 'Monster', which the crowd really bounced around to and enjoyed up until the music stopped.
This was a spectacular event, make no mistake. The DJs were of the highest quality. The site was amazing - beautiful, enclosed and intimate. The crowd was generally friendly and up for a good time and the event organisation was slick.
A few comments made to me by several people were "I've enjoyed this better than Global this year!", now that's some pretty high praise right there.
A great day out indeed, South West Four next year is a must-attend event!
Special thanks go out to Tom + everyone at Cypher and Malik + everyone at HeatUK for making this possible!