Fabric was not open last year as quite a lot has happened since the 16th birthday including closing, the very public campaign and fundraising events, reopening, the new programming schedule, and now arriving at another birthday the clubs 18th. We want to focus on the music and share our experience of the annual celebration from the Sunday afternoon rolling into Monday morning. All pictures credited to Nick Ensing here.
As we approach the club Sunday mid afternoon we saw a queue of fresh revellers and also some crew that looked like they have enjoyed Saturday night and came back for part two. As we entered the club we could feel the energy and intensity as we slowly made our way down to room one opening the doors adjacent to the bar and hitting a warm wall of sub bass emitting from room 1 as we heard Raresh going back to back with Ricardo Villalobos. Room 1 was busy as ever with a very varied and mixed crowd of revellers and dancers. The very distinguished figure of Ricardo stood out in the booth sharing lots of fun exchanges, laughs, hugs and comments with Raresh. As they opened there set with a beat less intro which looped and transcended time only building the anticipation until the kick drum dropped in minutes later. The room 1 sound system always provides a clarity and depth to the music being played through it and Ricardo knows better than most what it is capable off and how to maximise impact, power and affect. As we found a spot to dance on the bustling and loose dance floor we spotted several local djs in and around the venue as the birthday does turn into a occasion lots of people make effort for.
We always try to keep our ears open to see if we recognise any of the tracks expressed and aired when Ricardo plays and it is always a rarity to know any let alone a few. Raresh looked as comfortable and relaxed as Ricardo and the big stage seemed effortless for both. We noted that Planet Love by Virgil slipped into the groove as the overall palette of techno, minimal and house cuts blended very seamlessly together. As the two settled into their back to back journey, the bar raised with the crowd reaction when the driving and spaced out groove of Svek aka Jesper Dahlback & Sebastian Ahrenberg My World came through the speakers. It is always an interesting and familiar experience in room 1 on the birthdays as the crowds pack in for the Saturday and Sunday with djs stretching out for long periods and unknown songs get breathed into arguably London’s finest sound system. A few hours in we spotted another cut which was an understated and stripped back number Roustam – Valparaiso took the mood deeper with intricate details and shuffling swing. Ricardo played a few of his own productions which always gets a strong reaction from the crowd and the energy levels stayed high throughout the back to back set. It was groovy and high paced with focus on keeping the frequencies tight and playful. It was a masterful and enjoyable experience seeing these two artists share the booth and create some memorable mix and blends.
Next up was London’s Ben UFO who has played the birthday previously on a Sunday around the same time. Ben started shortly after 9pm and the dj booth stayed busy with staff, guests & djs. Ben is very in demand and very adept in big club situations. Ben immediately raised the intensity flicking between tougher techno cuts whilst slipping in some choice house numbers like Remember by BT the Mood II Swing Dub which was also played at a previous birthday by Perlon boss Zip. As Ben bopped and swayed in the booth with focus and intensity the energy raised and crowd reacted as he played one his newer Hessle Audio cuts by Joe called Tail Lift with its very fun cow bells and whistles. The groove is always humorous, fun and tougher with the Hessle releases and this release sounded very impressive on the room 1 rig. Ben also looked very loose and content and as we have heard previously at Birthdays Ben likes to play some forgotten classics, this year was no exception as he rinsed the Mighty Dub Katz – Let The Drum Speak this really got the hands in the air as the infectious chord lines & catchy vocal rolled out. The party most certainly was in full swing and the very metallic and large room 1 had a more house party vibe about it. The light show also needs to be given props as the lasers, lights and choreographed smoke machine always heighten the intensity and energy over some tracks. Another stand out number included Cham by Gilb’R & DJ Sotofett which had some serious groove which contrasted the clean and functional techno on display. House of Venus Dish & Tell Bitch Mix which came out in the 90s really got bodies jacking with its fun chopped vocals and cheers. Ben performed another standout set as the numbers in room 1 did not yield from Ricardo & , we endured having several bodies passing through to meet mates or get closer to the booth. In contrast Inland Sca Fell really gave the room 1 system a work out with it’s no nonsense chugging bass line, kick drum and percussion. Ben is very consistent, whilst being diverse, fun and humorous with his sets, it becomes very evident why he is very much in demand and a very unique selector still growing and exploring.
As we took a fag break and checked the set times we thought we would wonder up to Room 3 to see Claus Voigtmann back to back with Margaret Dygas. Both played standout sets at the first Houghton festival a few months back so this session should set a high standard. Room 3 now has the dj booth placed at the back of the room facing the entrance hiding in-between the arches nestled in. As we entered the arches, the groove was deeper and more rolling in room 3 as we spotted Mountain People 8.1 being flexed with the crowd really enjoying the pace and smaller settings. Claus and Margaret also looked to be in high spirits, joking and laughing. The fabric staff came around with fancy dress for the occasion and the ravers enjoyed getting dressed up which only helped keep the mood high. Overall this set was locked into its sense of urgency, high energy and fitted the room 3 size and space. Hopefully we get to see these two perform back to back again as it most certainly had some stand out moments always keeping things deep and groovy. Margaret is strongly linked to Perlon and has really impressed over the last 12 months and Claus from ToiToi is growing in confidence and producing strong sets on the big stage.
As it just past midnight we rolled back into the room 1 to see Ricardo at the helm, Ricardo very effortlessly flowed from old German techno to UK numbers including Jedi Knights May The Funk Be With You, it sounded very cohesive and very on point as we entered Monday morning. Ricardo has this very loose and long style of mixing which is very precise and floaty, to mix on big sounds system, with vinyl and make it look very doable is a skill in itself that’s not forgetting playing for hours, crafting a story expressed across multiple genres and styles. As we neared the end of his set one of the highlights included Stella by Jam & Spoon with its fast paced drums and driving chords, as we rolled late into Monday morning room 1 seemed to get busier and busier with more bodies shuffling for space to dance. As 3am rolled in Craig entered the booth and took to the decks. Craig has a very varied and diverse repertoire of sounds which always have a signature flavour, tone and spice to them. The first few cuts settled the vibe and then Craig dug deep into his record box. We clocked in a solid 12 hours and had enjoyed an exquisite display of djs, back to backs and that unforgettable room 1 sound system. This was an understated and musically very impressive, cohesive and groovy birthday by Fabric’s standards.
As we enter the sprint finish to the year, the big NYE celebrations and then the start of 2018, Fabric is back open, they are seeing the weekly resident Craig Richards play monthly. Change is unavoidable and after 18 years the music you can be exposed to in Fabric is educational, innovative, classic, strange, wonderful and forgotten. We very much look forward to entering the club very soon and enjoying seeing new names rub shoulders with more regular acts. As we racked our minds to remember some of the tracks we heard including Fantasy Fear of the Brane 001 release by Youandewan stood out as the track of the weekend as it got rinsed by Claus & Margaret in Room 3 and again in Room 1 by Ricardo & Raresh. Most importantly overall the music is consistent and of a very high standard throughout and is accompanied by the room 1 sound system making listening and dancing even more enjoyable. As Fabric remains open the underground electronic music community will benefit from the international acts to the more local up coming artists that it provides a platform for. Overall business as usual and long may it continue, we look forward to seeing how 2018 shapes up and the programming including Craig’s monthly new project.