On Saturday 11th February, CJFM was invited up to London’s newest event space; Printworks London, for the inaugural bass music event being held there. Having only opened the weekend before, this brand new 5,000 capacity venue looked set to wow attendees with an incredible line-up from the likes of Alix Perez, Friction, Joe Ford, Dimension, Netsky, Sub Focus + special guest Feed Me and many more. The main room being hosted by UKF and Snowbombing, whilst Shogun Audio had complete control over room 2, this all-day event was going to be something for the history books and boy did they not disappoint.
Printworks London, is found in a relatively unassuming industrial park about a 10-minute walk from Canada Water tube station, this huge venue is a retrofitted newspaper printing press that used to be the largest in Europe and supplied London with thousands of newspapers each day. Having 6 event spaces that total almost 120,000 square feet of usable area and almost half that in available space outside, this mega-venue is looking to breathe much-needed new life into the night-life of London.
The closure of Fabric, a world-famous London venue, caused outrage from fans across the globe and sparked a petition with over 100,000 signatures. It was thought that London’s once vibrant nightlife was being slowly killed off. The re-opening of Fabric and the opening of brand new event spaces such as Printworks just goes to show that the government is listening and has realised that cultivating spaces such as these are great not only for the local economy but also to reinforce the point that London is a global leader in clubland nightlife.
Set on a 16-acre plot of land, this old printing press is just your average looking industrial building, you wouldn’t even know it was a venue were it not for the Printworks London logo being found on the main entrance gate. Walking up to the building, the first thing that strikes me is just how huge this place really is. For this event, only 2 of the available 6 spaces were open to attendees, but that still meant 2,500 would be packed into 2 rooms. You’d think that the place would be rammed, but due to the main room’s enormity, it never felt too busy and you could easily walk around and explore.
This leads me to the actual event rooms themselves. The main room is made up of one of the main printing rooms and is huge, so huge in fact that when standing right at the back, you could hardly see the stage which was over 100m away from you. A very high ceiling meant there was plenty of room for some outstanding production visuals.
The owners, having done barely anything to the original state of the building, meant it still has that feel of an old warehouse and printing press. Old machinery has been left scattered around the venue to reinforce that aesthetic giving it a unique visual style which you would be hard pressed to find anywhere else.
Room 2 was a short walk away from the back of the main room, and while it was much, much smaller than the main room, it was of a decent size and it was the only part of the venue that felt packed all the time. With drum and bass label Shogun Audio hosting the room, it had a distinct underground vibe that suited the label’s artists and sound perfectly, due to the very low ceiling, plain concrete walls and support pillars spaced throughout.
The amenities inside were great, at all the multiple bars spread over three levels the longest I had to queue was about a minute before being served and the token based payment system is a great way to combat theft. The main bar ran parallel to the main room and was just as long meaning that while it looked and felt busy all the time, it never felt too crowded.
Staff and security were great, full searches took place on entry but it was nothing too invasive and there were security constantly patrolling, more as a safety measure rather than a prevention measure and I only saw one person being escorted out throughout the 10 hours that I was there.
The toilets in the basement were the only minor downside. Having clearly been purpose built by the venue, the floors got a bit flooded with various liquids rather quickly, but they were constantly being cleaned and I found I never had to queue to get in. I’m not sure what this would be like had more people been attending as there could be more facilities hidden away in this monstrous place.
Going outside to grab some fresh albeit freezing air and a bite to eat, the smoking area, again was decently sized with a lot of seating spread around and some heaters strategically placed to keep people warm. It was so cold and was snowing throughout parts of the afternoon so people would huddle around these heaters like groups of emperor penguins trading stories about their favourite acts, where they came from and who they were most excited to see.
Just to prove how excited people were for the opening of this venue I met a few guys that had travelled from as far as Germany and a group of girls that had come from Luxembourg just to experience this brand-new space. Everyone I spoke to couldn’t get over the sheer size of the venue and the vibe it was giving off, again, many mentioned warehouse raves they’d been too in the past, where the only difference was that Printworks was legit.
In terms of production, you could tell that no expense had been spared. Since the building was previously a very noisy printing press, both main rooms were already 100% soundproofed. Perfect for everyone living or working nearby but even more perfect for the attendees as it means the sound system inside could really push the limits in terms of how loud it could go. Great for all the bass heads out there, even more so for the nutters who love to stand right in front of the speakers and leave with a minor case of tinnitus.
The visuals in the main room were the best I’ve ever seen at any venue I have ever been too. As I mentioned before, the ceiling was so high it enabled the VFX designers to install what I counted as 8 hanging light bars spaced equally from just behind the stage to about just over half was up the main room. These light bars would then automatically move up and down and even tilt to 45 degrees to produce some insane lighting effects.
Combine this with lasers which were spread all the way down the room from the upper walkways on either side to form giant triangles angled up to the ceiling and one huge laser light that came from behind the stage and reached all the way to the back wall. Once a fair amount of dry ice had filled the room, the visuals came into their own and led to some fantastic visuals that really added to the whole experience.
The creative usage of the space really impressed me and the DJ booth on the stage was made from old printing machinery, again to add to that industrial aesthetic that works so well. As much fun as it was being right at the front I found that to really take in the full experience you’d want to be almost a third of the way back as this way you’d get to see the crazy visual effects that weren’t as noticeable right at the front.
The production in room 2 was very good also, the sound system was perfectly suited to the small space and with the DJ booth only a few feet away from the barrier it helped to reinforce the underground vibe and enabled a lot of interaction between the DJs, MCs and the crowd.
As the ceiling was so low, there weren’t many visual effects, the main lighting was a few red lights to add a distinct colour that was different from the rest of the venue. The majority of the unique lighting came from the rafters that covered the ceiling and the multiple LED strips that covered them, which would flash in different colours.
Moving onto the event itself, it was my first UKF event I’d been too, so I was very excited to attend, especially at such a new venue. I’d been to various UKF stages at festivals in the past so I knew that the guys over at UKF were always on point with the acts they booked and they certainly outdid themselves with this one.
When I arrived, I managed to catch the last half of Deadline’s set in room 2, as these guys also hail from Brighton, I couldn’t miss them and finally seeing them live, opening for Shogun was certainly something special! The boys certainly knew how to ease the crowd in and get them warmed up, whilst still dropping some bangers.
Back to the main room, Mollie Collins was finishing up her 2-hour opening set, by this point the vast room still felt empty but it was steadily filling. I stuck around to watch most of Holy Goof’s set who was on next before deciding to grab a drink and some fresh air. Both acts were great and it was interesting watching two DJs I hadn’t heard of before.
Once back inside I needed to warm up so headed back to the Charge Bay (room 2) as this was only space inside that was genuinely warm throughout the whole day. Pola & Bryson were currently in the mix and those guys certainly knew how to get a crowd riled up, I didn’t stick around for too long as I wanted to see Taiki Nulight on the main stage.
Taiki seemed to have a lot of fans at the event as many people were sporting “TN” branded t-shirts, which was nice to see. His mixing was on point, and you could tell that his fan-base were extremely excited to see him there.
Joe Ford was next in the Charge Bay and having been wanting to see him for a good few years now, I was very excited for his set. His sound perfectly suited the tight space and the crowd was going absolutely mental. He completely blew me away in terms of technical ability and being able to read the crowd so well was impressive to watch first-hand.
After Joe, it was time for Ulterior Motive. The duo from Bournemouth, can only go from strength to strength in 2017 and after seeing them live I can see why they’ve previously had award nominations and top 40 chart success. One of my favourite MC’s, Linguistics took to the stage and as an MC who is clearly at the top of his game it was great to see him work some lyrical magic over the heavy sound of Ulterior Motive.
Special guest Feed Me was up next in the Press Halls (room 1), again I’ve been wanting to see him live for a long time so I was incredibly excited for this. I would say he was the highlight of the whole event as you can really tell he is a master of his craft and he just looks so at home behind the decks. I would have wanted to see him with his own light set-up that he is renowned for but his mixing ability and set as a whole was probably my favourite of the day.
After Feed Me, 1991 was up and he too was really good, by this point the venue was pretty full, so that the crowd probably stretched half way up the main room. This meant that you could really start to see how the crowd was reacting to each drop, and the odd mosh pit was being started. His tribute to the late Diane Charlemagne was a standout point in what was otherwise a pretty unremarkable hour.
Dimension was on after 1991 and as one of my favourite DnB artists out there I was excited to see him again, having previously seen him b2b b2b b2b with Culture Shock, Skankandbass & Sub focus at Skankandbass’ launch event last year, I knew we would be in for a great set from him. Having remixed Deadmau5’s “Strobe” making a great song even better, this producer can do no wrong and I expect him to drop some absolute thumpers on us over the next few months.
Time for another drink and some air before heading back inside for Friction. An established producer and radio 1 DJ, Friction never disappoints and is constantly pushing the scene forward with his own new sounds and the showcasing of other new artists that crop up from around the world.
After Friction, it was time for Netsky. Having previously interviewed him when he last came down to Brighton, and seeing him with his live band a few times, I was intrigued to see what his DJ sets would be like. Opening with Love Has Gone, you could tell that this was going to be a set full of his classics, whilst mixing in various other tunes. Not just sticking to the DnB genre, he took us on a journey filled with trap, electro and of course drum and bass.
I noticed that the crowd was only really here for the drum and bass and MC Script, was very adept at picking up on this and made sure to let Netsky know it was time to up the tempo when the crowd looked as if it was waning. Double dropping his own song “Go 2” with Camo & Krooked’s “Ember” was a highlight of the set and everyone went wild. It was great to finally see him play some tracks off his latest album “3” which wasn’t yet out when I was fortunate enough to meet him.
Finally, it was Sub Focus’ time to step up to the decks and show us again why he is one of the leading artists in the DnB scene at the moment. Having previously seen him at SkankandBass’ launch event at the Nest, where it was strictly an underground/dubplate affair and before that at Global Gathering (My favourite festival of all time) in 2014 when he was still touring his album “Torus” it was great to see him play a more commercial set once more.
Opening with one his most famous tunes and an absolute classic, “Rock It” worked the crowd into a frenzy and what followed was an hour of the finest drum and bass from one of the best DJs out there. Teasing us with a few new tracks from his upcoming album this is a man who knows how to evolve his sound and yet keep it familiar to ensure fans old and new are always entertained.
After a highly energetic hour, it was time to end. The lights came on, showed us once again just how vastly big the venue actually was, as we were all slowly filtering out, you could tell that what we had all just witnessed over the past 10 hours was something truly special.
Not only was the line up on point thanks to UKF, Snowbombing and Shogun Audio, but the venue was incredible. This club is easily my new favourite and I would be surprised if Printworks London doesn’t become one of the best venues not only in London, but the world. This place is so unique and so big, mix that in with the incredible production values and with the events that they have planned for the future, this venue needs to be at the top of everybody’s list of clubs to visit.
Reviewed by Callum French of CJFM Presents, for more like this and to stay up to date with our weekly radio show give us a like on Facebook.
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