Celebrating its 16th year at its familiar Clapham Common site, South West Four is a familiar August Bank Holiday destination for London’s clubbers. This year it again welcomed the House of Commons Festival, curated by Madness, onto two of its stages for Bank Holiday Monday itself. Returning after two years, the giants of ska were accompanied by artists including Ziggy Marley and Jimmy Cliff.
The event’s long-serving sound production company, Capital Sound, was again brought in by promoters Lock ‘N’ Load Events, with whom they have a long relationship, and of the five stages they equipped, Martin Audio PA systems dominated the first four.
The event again drew some of the world’s leading exponents of electronic dance music, including Martin Garrix, Tinie Tempah, Plan B, Pendulum Trinity and Chase & Status presenting RTRN II JUNGLE, while under canvas Sigma and Craig David were among the Stage 2 headliners, in the vast 180 x 245-foot, 10,000 capacity space.
For Capital account manager Martin Connolly and Lock ‘N’ Load’s Andrew Mattle, the event is all about improving the customer experience year on year—particularly with regard to the audio—and this year was no exception. Capital upgraded Stage 3 from MLA Compact last year to the full MLA, flying eight elements (plus an MLD Downfill box) on either side of the stage. “Although the speaker complement was roughly the same as before we needed more horsepower to deal with reflections at the back of the tent,” said Connolly, explaining the reasons for the change.
The Capital FM main stage saw 13 MLA and a single MLD downfill flown on each wing with a single mast of symmetrical outfills (comprising eight MLA Compact elements) on the downstage edge. Providing the all-important low frequencies were 20 MLX subwoofers, designed in a broadside cardioid array while those near the front had the sound enhanced by 12 Martin Audio W8LM near-field loudspeakers.
Stage 2 and the smaller Stage 3 comprised an identical MLA/MLD formula with 12 MLX subwoofers in a spaced cardioid array, and four Martin Audio XD12 for front fills.
Finally, the 130 x 145-foot Stage 4 tent saw the PA ground-stacked, with six MLA Compact on each side, atop four SX218 subs; these were in 2 x 2 end fire configuration, due to space constraints.
Summarizing the event as a whole, Martin Connolly was mindful that Clapham Common remains a sound sensitive site. “We managed to achieve good levels—around 98dB(A) on the main stage—while meeting the offsite threshold of 75dB(A) … and we had no complaints about noise spillage,” he says.
He was supported by an A-team of Capital technicians, headed by crew chief Tim Patterson. System tech was Joseph Pearce and monitor engineer was Marty Beath, while Richard Wonnacott was head stage patch. Overall production manager was Alex Anderson.
Finally, this year’s South West Four was officially the fastest selling event in their 16-year history. Paying tribute to the sound production, Andrew Mattle says, “As they do every year, Capital Sound were a joy to work with. Pre-production was easy. On site, their team went about their job in an efficient manner and most importantly again produced quality sound using the Martin Audio MLA system. SW4 looks forward to working with Capital again next year.”