so much has already been said about both, where does one start with a review of perennially world beating club, fabric, when headlined by current techno darlings visionquest? in the morning, when you wake up with an early party in the depths of your stomach as it churns in anticipation? on the train ride to london, where chat is dominated by what the night may hold? or at the pre-party session where everyone plays the records they’re hoping to hear on the sound system that beats all others? probably none of those, and although the queue never makes for that riveting an opening gambit, probably not there either, but i shall…
there are different lines for tickets, guestlist, fabric first members, all policed by bouncers and amiable staff ensuring you get in as quickly as possible, through the airport style security and onto a platform with wide staircases leading both up and down. everyone behaves, not wanting to get turned away, but once inside (and having checked your coat for the reasonable price of one english pound at one of the two cloakrooms) excited patter begins to fill the cavernous stair well in which you now stand. and so does, of course, a dull thud which emanates from somewhere deep down below…
toward it you eagerly tread, down the brick lined walls of a tidy urban staircase (where many a weary raver takes refuge later on), eventually coming to some large sets of two-way doors. behind them, one of the most revered clubbing experiences in the world has played out, every weekend, for ten years. no matter how many times you’ve been, it makes for an emotive moment as you approach them, for they shall forever be the doors which shield all manner of pleasurable unknowns. push them open and you’re faced with a long, backlit bar and a cosmopolitan sea of people passing left to right, right to left; from room one to room two or three and vice-versa. straight away you lose everyone in your crew to the vastness and the darkness. there’s no mobile reception down here either, so you’d better just hope you bump into them later on.
armies of staff ensure not a single passage way from this room to that; into the toilets; the stairs or outside to the sizeable smoking area is blocked. so, too, do they scoop up – with military efficiency – the heavy duty plastic, um, glasses from which we drink. ‘so what?’ you bleat, but with x thousand people dropping their empties on the 3 different dancefloors for 10 odd hours, it would soon become impossible to dance if they weren’t taken care of: another subtle but essential touch which makes you feel as looked after as some fine dining bourgeoisie in a plush, city centre eatery.
and so to the action in the thriving hub of the main room, with its shielded dj booth; opposing live stage; high ceilings lined with industrial ventilation tubes; pulsing-in-time-to-the-beat dancefloor and the final jewel in a crown full of them, the soundsystem… with seth initially at the helm, it punches out a thick bottom end whilst sprinkling the percussion and synth lines on us from above. the high ceiling means the sounds have room to breathe – there’s no reverb, they’re crystal clear and almost hang in the air just above us, blanketing us in a rich, hd sonic tapestry.
after seth’s set, during which he is distracted infrequently and always keeps both eyes on the job, the densely packed ‘floor turn on their heels to face crosson and curtiss. they stand a yard or so apart behind a desk, with a laptop each – ryan looking like hawtin, lee looking like a collegiate quarter back – both focussing hard as they begin their live set. it’s a taught journey through colourful tech, basslines to get hips stuck into and the odd vocal flex for brief moments of unifying repose. the way the lighting randomly shifts from being beamed down on them from above, to coming in sheets from green lasers or from spots dotted around the walls constantly changes the whole dynamic of the room: sometimes it feels cavernous, sometimes it feels cramped, sometimes it disappears in a smoky fog. whatever, the apparent architectural dynamism toys with your mind as the night goes on, only adding to the whole trip.
seth then appears in the booth behind us once again. with the bit between his teeth he sequences an arcing set which brushes up with brashy techno, warmer d-town sounds, maya jane coles edits and a deft selection of loveable classics (‘no way back
‘ being the most apt of the night at 7am) which re-engage anyone who’s attention may have waned during the more esoteric passages of sound. it’s choice, dance-y, charming and clearly does the trick, for the ‘floor remains full (i mean dancing-with-your-hands-in-your-pockets full) ‘til well past breakfast time.
without accusing visionquest of being louche at other times, there’s an underlying sense of professionalism to tonight’s proceedings. you get the impression a lot of prep went into it and that they really meant business from the word go. they programmed a heartfelt, 360 degree musical experience (both literally and metaphorically) using vinyl, laptops, playing back to back, solo and live though old school and new school sounds which proved as epic as are the connotations of their collective name.
with kyle mf hall in the much cosier chamber that is room 3, and ben klock in the cave-like underground cavity of room 2 at various points during the morning, it’s impossible not to break off and go check them out. the former drops hip-hop influenced house beats with all the enthusiasm of a month old pup, whilst the latter slams out grainy techno shrouded in endless cloaks of reverb and echo. like the opposing vibes, the respective crowds are different, too: hall’s jump about like him, smiling and high on life; klock’s have their heads down, sweat endlessly and march deeper into their own worlds, ever further away from the drags of normality. of course, these two rooms also offer something for those who shy away from main rooms and instead prefer the more isolated and darker confines of a smaller rave space.
i’ve said before in my reviews that musical enjoyment is subjective. whilst visionquest turned in a ‘were you there?’ performance tonight, then, should they not be your thing, fear not… it would be hard not to find at least one event to your liking in any given week (let alone month) at fabric and, as such, there’s no reason not for everyone to try the place, at least once. as for the slight that tourists litter the place… of course they do: all the world’s wonders buzz with people wanting their slice of the action, but they go home before you will, and then it really gets good. and anyway, there’s always the possibility they leave you with a hilarious anecdote as did one italian i spoke to who had come over from perugia, just to visit the club…
“what do you think?” i just about asked.
“it’s ok” he retorted, before continuing sans even the slightest sense of irony, “but full of tourists.”