Posted by: pascoesabido | August 28, 2008

A quick healthcheck for FABRICLIVE

FABRICLIVE@Fabric, London 15-08-2008

Published in Data Transmission [http://www.datatransmission.co.uk/features163.aspx]

When it comes to consistently attracting the big names, Fabric never fails – even those who claim to be sick of the super-club find themselves returning because the music’s simply irresistible: FABRICLIVE on a Friday is a guaranteed party while Saturday’s fabric is a list of who’s who in house and techno. This Friday’s no exception and there’s a choice between breaks, drums, and even more bass: Adam Freeland headlines the main room, Roni Size leads the charge in the second, while those who want nothing but bass-line have Tayo and then Skream to dubstep it through the floor.

Decisions, decisions – someone’s gotta be sacrificed, and unfortunately it’s ta-taa to Freeland: my abandonment of the D&B scene – after it was over-run by young-guns with more hat than height – means it finally deserves a second chance. Once in, room two supplies a pleasant surprise: the crowd are neither aggressive tots nor tacky tourists (supposedly Friday’s normal plague); instead it’s filled with a happy bunch, there for the fun not the fighting. Roni Size is due, a one-hour DJ-set, but there’s a worry that without his breathtaking live band Reprazent, we’ll be left with a middle-of-the road set, lacking in originality and interest. Fear not, for in one short hour the Bristolian pioneer viciously grabs the reigns and shuns all doubters.

Taking over from DJ Makoto, Size glides through new and old, dropping current classics like Take Me Away by Chase & Status while gaining the momentum to crescendo. However, half-an-hour in and the high-energy jump-up gives way – High Contrast pours from the speakers as increasing amounts of liquid D&B leas into the set. But it’s all part of the plan: the dip in intensity is just an excuse to crank it up once more, and Sigma’s remix of Welcome To Jamrock launches a sea of arms searching for the roof. There’s even a taster of the golden era, as Size briefly drops the spine-tingling, warped-synth chords from Dilinga’s Twist ‘em Out, pulling at the heart strings of the bygone days.

While many other DJs would continue in the same vein, not Mr Size: there’s much to prove and so little time to do it in, but chopping it up with some bone-shaking dubstep bass-lines before slapping on a rather cheeky Silver remix of We Are Your Friends – keeping faith with the original 4X4 beat and chorus before dropping into a filthy bass-line rendition – does much to silence the naysayers. As the last track peters out, there is a genuine sense of disappointment, but the prospect of Marky ensures it doesn’t last.

The Brazilian has a reputation that precedes him: a great showman, a smooth mixer, a nifty scratcher, and normally an impeccable selector of tunes; but tonight his successive selection of monotonous bass-lines quickly bores. Marky is still up for it – jumping around behind the decks, grinning madly, scratching away – but the crowd remain uninspired as another track drops, indistinguishable from the last; even his most devoted adorers are disappointed. Perhaps he misjudged the crowd? Or maybe he fancies testing the infamous soundsystem as basslines continue to rumble through the club? Whatever the reason, it’s enough to leave him to it and find solace in the Cool And Deadly room.

A quick taster at the beginning of the night unearthed a mix of salsa and sexy R&B-infused crunk (shame on you Toddla T, it was neither cool nor deadly), but Tayo abandons the Twice As Nice tinge for something a bit dirtier. Some beefy tracks such as Caspa’s remix of TC’s Where’s My Money rumble through, while the constraints of genre are shrugged off by Bobby Peru’s Erotic Discourse – or as one bemused onlooker describes it, “C3P0 on crack”. We’re even treated to some classic UK garage as DJ Zinc’s 138 Trek sneaks its way onto the platter.

A last look in on Marky reveals more of the same and an early exit is gladly taken. Undoubtedly, FABRICLIVE has succeeded in putting on yet another good night – the reason they are one of London’s most popular and successful club nights – but the fail-safe formula robs it of ingenuity. Well promoted, staffed, and equipped, it has it all – even a spacious and queue-free smoking area – but it will never have the magic of its Saturday sister, let alone some of the more personal venues London has on offer: a 1,500-capacity and heady popularity among tourists is simply not compatible with maintaining a cult following. Such is life, and Fabric will continue to showcase the biggest talent from around the world; but there’s no sleep lost for owner Keith Reilly, who is about to open matter – a custom-built 2,600-capacity super-club within the O2 Arena, which will afford plenty of new chances to fuck with the formula. Once more it’s the old adage of quantity vs quality.

Photos: Rachel Brier – www.myspace.com/rachgraphoto

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