When looking through the roster of artists performing in London this past weekend, and the list of venues they were performing in, it’s difficult to see how the capital’s nightlife could be suffering. Promoters and artists are continuing to come up with innovative ways to keep the city moving forward. The London Warehouse Events team set a high bar with Tobacco Dock but Printworks has certainly raised it further. Dark and cavernous, it draws together big room production and stripped back aesthetic. The venue has pulled away from the recent norm of having a giant screen for the dancefloor to focus on. The DJ booth is understated, with the visual display coming from the roof and the rafters above the column of the dancefloor. Over 100 lasers and spotlights were installed to illuminate the venue’s industrial edges. It’s an extremely impressive set-up and there’s just as much fun to be had at the back of the floor as there is at the front.
Printworks’ excellent musical experience is met with ruthlessly efficient organisation. While never at the absolute top of any list the minor details certainly contribute toward making a better venue. Queues move quickly, the toilets are clean and the security have a reassuring presence without being overbearing. Most impressive of all is how ventilated and cool the venue is, especially when compared with others of a similar size. In fact I took along my customary sweatband and didn’t once feel the need to wear it. That has never happened before. Ever.
Onto the music. The lineup featured a live performance from Vril and sets from Mind Against and Charlotte De Witte. The second room moved to the sounds of Fort Romeau but it was difficult to shake the impression that the room was little more than overspill from the main Press Halls. Daniel Avery had warmed up the main room nicely before Rodhad took to the stage prior to Maceo Plex’s headline appearance. The Dystopian boss following his recent album announcement with an uncompromising two hours of techno. Tracks from the forthcoming “Anxious” were given an airing alongside Peter B’s Roots Pt 2 which received one of the biggest reactions of the night.
It’s easy to draw a line between Maceo’s festival sets and his club performances. The last time I saw him at Melt Festival he brought a more accessible record bag, packed with hits from Ellum and Tale of Us’ interpretation of a Hans Zimmer classic. Here it was Maceo Plex on the poster but Maetrik behind the decks. Ninex 7-C was the first music released under the moniker since 2014, having featured heavily in Adam Beyer’s recent sets it shook Printworks to its foundations. Charlotte De Witte, who played a fantastic set earlier in the day, made an impact later in the night when Maceo rolled out her latest release “Closer”. It was the high point of an incredible two hours full of techno twists and turns, breaks, house and hip hop. It was everything you’d want from your headliner on opening night. At a very basic level, getting a crowd on side is a simple task. Keep a bassline rolling, the hooks catchy, the softer moments quiet and the punchier moments loud- but it’s still special when it’s done right.
The Printworks launch was spectacular and it may be a while before London’s biggest and best venue is knocked off its perch.
Photos courtesy of Printworks