Reviewed: Andy C’s Xmas Party at Printworks
Following on from the success of his second XOYO residency, on the 7th December 2019, Andy C bought a roster, packed full of top draw talent to Printworks London for his 11 hour, sold-out Xmas Party! They also broke the record for having the most ravers through the gates before 2pm! Which just goes to show how stellar the whole lineup was, from start to finish – the history and future of our scene combined.
So we jumped off the tube at Canada Water and were greeted outside the station by hi-vis wearing attendants, guiding us to the venue itself. When we arrived at the gate, we bumped into DJ Randall – who I recently had headline at my club night ‘Jungle Tribe’ in Nottingham – we had a quick chat in the press office, one of the soundest guys I’ve met in the scene and I was really looking forward to his b2b with Dillinja later.
Once we made it inside through security, we made our way past the large smoking area, through several large halls with bars and toilets, up some stairs and into the main arena itself. It was my first ever time at Printworks (late to the party I know), having seen plenty of photos and videos of the venue, I thought I knew what to expect….believe me, the photos don’t do it any justice! The place is huge – and the production was even bigger.
Obviously the key factor of any rave is ‘how it sounds’ and I thought that the long, tall Press Halls would be acoustically…..rubbish – not so. The sound system is top-notch throughout the venue, with stacks littered down the left and right sides. You’re never too far away from a speaker tower, which means the bass is always ripping right into your chest – a big thumbs up! Aside from the face-melting subs and skank inducing drums, it doesn’t take long to notice how amazing the lighting is. The lasers and lights really dance around with the tunes, swaying the crowd and mood almost as much as the music – it’s truly something to behold. Operated by a crew of maybe 5 or 6 people working the entire 11 hour duration, manipulating every aspect of the lights, strobes, lasers – some on moving rigs – and the 3D hologram images which Printworks has become famous for. These guys deserve a round of applause and a few gun fingers thrown their way! They played a huge part in creating the atmosphere (and awesome videos you see) of the night.
We entered into the main Press Halls to catch the very end of Kanine (The 2019 Drum & Bass Arena Awards Best Newcomer) – easy to see why, with his signature production style, which shows an experience and depth to his sound – far beyond his years! A true beast on the turntables too, hosted by IC3, I was gutted we saw so little of their set, but the crowd looked red-faced and out of breath – positive signs! A quick change over and on jumped Bou and SP:MC – I’ve been a big fan of Bou for a long time, we’re both on Bloc2Bloc Radio based in Manchester and it’s been great to watch both his production and DJ skills getting better over his short time in the scene! His set was full of the heavy, dark rolling sounds he has become famous for, drawing you in with a singalong tease before reaching for that new filth to send the crowd into overdrive. Special mention to AC13 – who wasn’t on the lineup but his tunes featured heavily throughout the entire night – The future of Drum and Bass is looking very bright with these 3 pushing the sound forward.
Next up was Ed Rush & Optical with SP:MC (SP doing the double on hosting duties). This duo needs no introduction, after a slew of releases over a 20+ year long span on Virus alone, quite a contrast from the young guns on beforehand! They bought a bit more of the techy minimal dnb sound and a lot of low down sub action. To me, a nice change from the rolling sounds of Bou before. Ed Rush & Optical like two prize fighters, throwing double drop punches throughout their hour long, spine shaking set. When they first jumped on, I thought the crowd might not be up for their style of tunes – quite a shift in styles from the last 2 hours – I was wrong, they loved every second! I think there was actually more gun fingers thrown about here, than for the previous DJ’s! True legends of the scene – salute!
We decided to check out the Dark Room next – Dark Room by name, and by nature! Such a contrast from the main area, its like stepping into a small capacity club venue. Where the tall reaching canopy of the Press Halls is replaced by a low beamed ceiling and only dimly lit by the security lights (its almost pitch black). The music was dark too, Nicky Blackmarket b2b Ray Keith & Fatman D – The jungle legends bringing crate fulls of classic jungle anthems and blending them with more modern sounds, plus a nice range of subgenres in there, some darker stuff, some trademark(et) jump up stuff, but always jungle – and all topped off by Fatman’s signature voice, flow and style. It was nice to have a proper dark n dirty skank in what really did feel like a small club – bouncing off fellow ravers in the darkness. It was a nice change from the main room but the lasers were calling me…..
Back to the Press Halls and Randall, Dillinja and MCGQ were up. Classics – what else would you expect from two names of this caliber! Amen breaks a plenty, getting smothered with new gooey thumping basslines. GQ’s voice is one of my favourites – he hosted the first ever headline set I went to (Andy C b2b Hype @ Tranz-mission 2006) so I always enjoy his bars…ahhh nostalgia! Great to hear some classic tunes from both Randall & Dilijna’s respective labels; Mac 2 & Valve, and they dropped a fair few Benny L dubs too, the largest being a double of ‘Chase & Status – Retreat’ and a Benny L remix of ‘Renegade – Dark Soldier’ (I think). I’m also a big fan of Randall’s newest endeavour (Watch The Ride) with DieMantle and their tunes with Inja/Trigga & D Double E are definite crowd favourites and reload inducers. I’ve been getting so low that my knees have taken a serious beating by the end of their set!
Culture Shock stepped up next and bought his typical dance floor style, packed full of energy, vocal hooks and powerful, pulsating bass riffs – a contrast from the acts before! Although not the respite my legs were hoping for, “maybe if I skank a different way, my knees can recover” I keep telling myself…and skank I must! His set was littered with tracks from his latest album along with forthcoming heavy hitting remixes and VIPs! Pretty sure the new Dimension co-lab was dropped and doubled, and his banger ‘Renaissance’ got everyone singing the words to each other – reach for the lasers guys! A quick breather to the smoking area to cool down and grab some food/drinks – only a small time to recover before Andy took to the stage…
On to the main man himself – Andy is no stranger to long sets (as we know from his all night shows) and he never fails to blow the roof off! Proving time and time again why he is the undisputed king and the pinnacle of drum and bass – bow down mere mortals! No one does it quite like Andy when it comes to the scale of the show (who else could sell out Wembley) so 4 hours? Nothing mate! A true legend on the turntables when it comes to encompassing the blend between old and new, across the whole spectrum of the music we love – it doesn’t matter which era of drum & bass is ‘yours’ – Andy’s got you covered! Was great to hear songs from when I first got into D&B like; ‘Sub Focus – Airplane’ & ‘Pendulum – Tarantula/Slam’, as well as unreleased new music; ‘Enei – Sinking’ one of my personal faves at the moment (probably got the biggest ‘fuuuuck ooooofffff’ of the night) – and Emperors bootleg of ‘The Chain’ doubled with Urbandawn’s ‘Come Together’ bootleg – a signature Andy C blend and a big crowd pleaser – “puuuulllllll uuuuupppppp” they scream!
Big ups to Tonn Piper too! 4 hours maybe easy for Andy (man or machine?) but its no mean feat for any MC! His style of hosting really suits the fast pace mixing style, he knows when to sit back and let Andy do his thing, and he also knows when he has a few bars to kill while The Executioner cues up the next triple for the slaughter. Tonn also managed to get a few of his own reloads in, reaching over to stop the records when it all got a bit too much – I mean, someone had to! It’s refreshing to hear such a good combo working flawlessly together – and for 240 minutes – props to the both of em!
Which just leaves one question for Andy C…what’s next?! We cant wait to find out!
In summary; an amazing venue, crowd, vibe the whole 11 hours long & a light show second to none. If you haven’t been to Printworks London yet… add it to the list for 2020!