Recondite, Ben Klock, and John Digweed at Fabric London 12/20 (Concert Review)

Fabric London. If you are a fan of the deeper, darker genres of house music, then chances are you’ve heard of the nightclub Fabric, in London. This place is legendary. It’s loud, dark, crowded, heavy, and underground. Basically, it is everything you would want in a techno nightclub. Sure, it can seem a bit dodgy, but that is all part of it’s allure. I was only in London for a few short days, but I knew I had to make my way to Fabric. I was in luck, as the Saturday night lineup was one of Fabric’s best of the fall, featuring Berghain-legend Ben Klock, love-house master John Digweed, and a special live set from the German techno maestro, Recondite. John Digweed, along with Craig Richards, were taking over Room 1. Room 2 was the techno haven, featuring the sounds of Ben Klock, Recondite Live, and Terry Francis. Room 3 had originally been scheduled for Prosumer, but he unfortunately got sick, resulting in Room 3 being closed.

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I arrived about 10 minutes before Recondite took over the decks in a packed Room 2. This was perfect timing for me. I worked my way through an INSANELY crowded room, trying to find a comfortable space to dance. It was almost impossible, but I was eventually able to gain a few feet of dancing room to myself. I swayed and grooved to a pretty crazy set from Recondite. Since it was live, I had a hard time recognizing any specific tunes, but my best description of the set would be space-techno. It was dark and heavy, but with an airy, psychedelic, spacey vibe. Really awesome stuff, and the rest of the crowd around me definitely agreed.

Here’s a video I managed to take. Upon entry into Fabric, you are handed a flyer adamantly discouraging you from using your phone, both to protect against phone theft, as well as to keep strictly everything about the music. I, for the most part, heeded these instructions, but I couldn’t resist taking a few short videos. Here is Recondite, throwing down some deep and heavy techno. As you can (kind of) see, the club is packed, it’s really dark, and the music is heavy. Everything one could ever want in a techno club!

Because he was playing a live set, Recondite was only slotted for a little over one hour. That was no problem though, as John Digweed was just starting in Room 1, and Ben Klock was next in Room 2. I made my way over to an equally crowded Room 1, as John was taking the decks. Seriously, these rooms were so packed it was hard to get in any comfortable position. But, being opportunistic allowed me to slowly, like a fox, make my way into a better dancing spot.

I was situated to the left of the DJ booth, with a pretty decent view of both John Digweed and the crowd. John had tweeted earlier that he was sick, but fortunately he felt well enough to play the gig. I only saw him for a short time, as the allure of Ben Klock was too strong, but it was clear John Digweed had full control of the crowd. I like to define John Digweed’s music as love-house. It is techno music, but reminds me very much of love, with his tracks and mixes having much stronger emotional components than other techno DJs. This was on full display in Fabric, weaving through tracks with the expert precision that is only exhibited by a veteran such as John Digweed.

My friend wanted a cigarette, so we walked from John Digweed in Room 1 to the outdoor smoking area. This route requires you to walk up a few levels of stairs, before passing a bouncer and walking, silently, about 20 yards until it is clear you have arrived in the smoking area. As you get outside, you are greeted by this big sign, encouraging silence and hushed voices amongst those outside. This was new to me, as I had never been told by a nightclub to keep my voice down. But it was 4:00 am, with no sign of the party slowing down, so this request is understandable to me.

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After spending about 10 minutes outside in the cold smoking area, we returned to the techno-den, Room 2,  which was now under the control of Ben Klock. Ben is known for being a resident, and legend, of the itself legendary Berlin techno nightclub, Berghain. I had never seen him before and I was beyond excited to finally catch one of his sets. I had to be up in less than 4 hours, but that was not going to stop me. Immeditately, I could tell that Recondite was no longer on the decks. Ben Klock was delivering a similar, but yet so very different, brand of techno. This was danceable techno, heavy and dark, but perfectly groove-inducing. This was techno you could easily get lost too. I loved it, and found myself working my way right into the center of the dance floor, attempting to find the perfect stop. Sadly, this room was just way too crowded. Constant pushing and jarring do not result in ideal dancing conditions, and unfortunately, this was the case. I enjoyed Ben Klock for as long as I could, but after approximately 45 minutes, the crowded quarters became too much for me, and I conceded victory to the almighty Fabric, arriving back in my hotel room just in time for the sunrise.

Coming from America, it is really difficult to find a techno club like Fabric. In America, a place like Fabric just doesn’t exist. Yes, venues exist that play techno, even really cool and unique venues, but they do not bring in anywhere close to the quality lineups Fabric does on a consistent basis. Everything in Fabric was strictly about the music. The crowd was packed into the rooms, but it wasn’t a mad crush to be near the DJ booth, as is so often found at shows in the US. Everyone was in Fabric to hear some amazing techno music, and to dance. It wasn’t about being seen, or about posting pictures and videos on social media. It was about the music. This is what makes Fabric so special, and is the reason I will be returning, as soon as I find myself in London again.

 

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