Unless you’ve been hiding under a rock this past month (or given up social media as a new year resolution!), you’ve probably found it hard to avoid the outpouring of praise for London’s newest venue: Printworks. The former newspaper press – as its name suggest – is a 16 acre site of steel and concrete located in Canada Water’s Surrey Quays. The collaborative entity of London Warehouse Events, The Hydra and Broadwick Live knew they had stumbled upon a hidden gem. Billed as being able to accommodate 5,000 revellers, and with a programme catering to every sub-tribe of electronic music, we were chomping at the bit to see what all the fuss was about.
Firstly, credit must be given to the organisers for limiting tickets to 2,500 – half of the official capacity for the event spaces in currently in use (important). At no stage do we feel crammed-in. Even at peak times. In addition, crew are on-hand at every station – from the moment you jump off the tube at Canada Water. Everything flows. Whilst the thoroughfares are busy, queueing is limited. Bar service is speedy. Equally, praise must be given to the organisers for keeping the opening season’s programming diverse. It would’ve been all too safe to stick solely with house & techno.
We’ve already had bassy delights courtesy of UKF in week 2. And the remainder of the schedule throws up some intriguing listings. For one, there’s Abode date on 05/03 – with a line-up shrouded in much secrecy. Or how about the likes of Floating Points & MCDE – how will their style translate to these surroundings? Perhaps the biggest curveball of them all is 500-piece choir paying homage to Studio 54, with live renditions of soul, funk & disco classics. The venue even played host to Mulberry’s unveiling of their spring/summer range during London Fashion week. And let’s not forget the site was previously used for secret cinema screenings.
We digress. Because today it’s all about Adam Beyer and the official launch of Junction 2 festival. Junction 2 was the runaway success story of 2016. On June 10th the one-dayer will again grace Boston Manor Park for their sophomore outing. Amid the glut of indisguisable clones that have popped-up on the UK festival circuit in recent years, Junction 2 stopped the rot. It’s a year of expansion: 5 stages this time around. And heavyweight stage hosts Sonus and London favourites Into the Woods have been drafted-in to bolster credibility yet further. Perhaps their biggest challenge this year will be maintaining the aura of exclusivity that made their debut so special.
Much like Junction 2, Printworks has wasted little time in leaving a marking impression on the capital. The multi-layer space, and mesh flooring & pipework running overhead reminds us of a first person shooter set in deep space. It’s backstage – where we explore the warren of corridors, floors and hidden rooms – that really provide food for thought. Off-the-record, we reckon should the organisers ever decide to open all available space, the overall capacity could well exceed 10,000. A salivating prospect. Even the main room can be extended by another 1/3 its current length. The possibilities are endless.
Having completed our recky of the venue, we head to the Press Hall to grab a prime spot. It’s still early doors. Several groups have formed small pockets on the dancefloor. William Djoko is warming-up the early crowd. Wide-eyed, we scan the high ceilings. There’s a lot to take in. The main bar area is only a short hop away. We grab a can of Relentless – afterall, we’ll be needing the energy for this marathon… then wash it down with a mouthful of Jäger! The toilets and smoking area are further away. All things considered, it’s a minor grumble.
Drumcode’s sister label – Truesoul – oversees proceedings in Room 2, with sets from Joel Mull, Kevin Over and Reset Robot. But it is the boss who is today’s main attraction. He’s Junction 2’s anointed ambassador and spokesperson, having taken a hands-on approach. His involvement has been intrinsic to its success. Beyer has made no secret of his deep connection with London. From Ewer St. car park to fabric to Boston Manor Park. Today marks the culmination of that journey; that special relationship.
When 2PM rolls around, Beyer jumps on. His appeal is instantly magnetic as dancers flock to the Press Hall’s floor. As for the set itself, Beyer starts slow, and builds methodically. Then bangs it out for the last three hours. It is everything that an extended set should be. We get lost in the music for the next 8-hours. Here’s a selection of our personal highlights:
1. Charlotte de Witte – ‘My Feeling’
Beyer was scarcely 15mins in when he dropped this from fellow Junction 2 act, Charlotte de Witte. This set the early pace in what was set to be a marathon stomp.
2. Vinicius Honorio – ‘Walking Shadow’
As a label, Drumcode have never shied away from breaking new talent. Most recently they have handed the reins to Enrico Sangiuliano and Layton Giordani. But in Brazilian-born, London-based Vinicius Honorio they have unearthed another exciting talent for their roster. This is scheduled for release in the Spring – which can’t come soon enough!
3. Pascal Hetzel – ‘Theraphosa’
We suspect Pascal may have had the Drumcode boss in mind when he made this track. It just oozes Beyer appeal.
4. Crash Course In Science – ‘Flying Turns’
We’ve held a soft spot for this track ever since we rinsed a 2013 Maceo set recorded at ENTER. Apart from that, we’re struggling to think if we’ve heard it played out since. So this was a welcomed outing about 2 hours deep.
5. Joseph Capriati – ‘Missed Flight’
Beyer dug deep into the Drumcode vaults to pull out this forgotten beaut. A track we hadn’t heard in a while, but had us all exchanging ‘the look’ in agreement. This track is of particular significance as it cemented Capriati’s association with Drumcode at a time when he was just coming into prominence as a DJ.
6. Enrico Sangiuliano – ‘Astral Projection’
This track will forever hold special memories for us since we first heard Adam play it at Cocoon Closing in October. As such, it’s kinda been pigeonholed as an “Ibiza track”. We couldn’t imagine it hearing it elsewhere… but Beyer know best. And he got it absolutely right. It sounded just as good as it did on Amnesia’s sound system. Now, how about that release date?
7. Oxia – ‘Domino’ (Matador Remix)
The track that will not die! It’s a firm favourite of ours (naturally!) But it seems that not a week can go by without another DJ jumping on the Domino bandwagon. It was threatening to run into overkill territory. Crazy to think that this track is still an absolute dancefloor weapon 10 years after being released. Thankfully Agoria’s label, Sapiens, has breathed fresh life into it with a slew of new remixes. This is our favourite. Bangin’ update.
8. Prodigy – ‘Out Of Space’
Oh, he went there! Absolute scenes. The crowd threatened to bring the roof down. Just one of those moments where the dancefloor unites and everything is truly good in the world. Some 2,000 people losing their shit.
Music aside, it’s the state of the art production which blows our minds. The light and laser show is intergalactic in execution. As impressive as the videos and photos are, they just don’t do it justice. It makes upcoming events such as Melt Festival Launch, Nina Kraviz’s Galaxiid and Klockworks Presents Photons all the more tantalising. This is surely where Printworks will excel – as a boundary-pushing temple of techno. Man-made though it is, the experience conjures up visions of the universe and the great unknown. One imagines this is exactly the kind of environment that Jeff Mills conceptualized when developing his Sci-Fi inspired music of the future.
The impact made in only a few weeks of opening has led one publication to cite this as London’s “Berghain moment”. Such comparisons are unhelpful. Apart from their stark differences, Printworks should not concern itself with being the next Berghain. It already has being the first Printworks locked-down. It’s leading. Not following. A master of its own destiny.
The current license limits the space to day-time events. And this is where LWE have excelled in the past. Though often offering after-dark options for a carry-on at permanent, nearby licensed venues. That may well not change for the foreseeable. DT understands that there is scope to revisit the licensing conditions after Issue 001 finishes. Perhaps we’re letting our imaginations run away with us, but surely the prospect of a UK-based Time Warp event is now a real possibility. We’re speculating. Purely. But LWE have both the track record and the connections to make this a reality. We can but wait and hope.
Our focus now switches to Junction 2 – what just might just be the pinnacle of the UK festival calendar. Beyer will be back in town. Only this time he’ll be bringing plenty of friends along for the ride!