Live Review: Ben Klock at Fabric

Upon each time arriving at Fabric, it induces the same feeling of excitement as I had the first time I entered its large metal doors five years ago. It was the first ‘proper’ club I’d ever entered and, as such, still holds a special place in my heart. That aside, you can be sure that whichever Saturday night you choose, you’re bound to hear a feast of musical delights played by the best in the game. There’s no doubt that Fabric retains its crown as the best clubbing experience London has to offer on this scale. Other venues spring to mind for the more intimate performance, but in terms of size, quality and programming, there’s nothing quite like it in London.

Descending the concrete steps that seemed to go on forever the first time you explore them, we headed straight into the main room, where Trus’me was already pounding out techno to a very sparsely-packed room.  He didn’t spend long warming up, and instead delved deep into techno territory, taking no prisoners with tracks like Sandwell District’s remix of I Feel It Deep. The best moment from the Mancunian DJ was hearing his hit track Somebody filtered in slowly over the top of an acidic techno number to a now-extremely-packed main room. The track was filtered out as it was brought in, only to be teased again a minute later to huge cheers. The delivery of Mr. Lee’s classic vocal version of I Can’t Forget signalled that the end of his set was nearing and we took this as our cue to see what was going on in the other rooms. Room 3 was in the care of Huntleys + Palmers and was playing hip-hoppy, afro-beat-centric music that provided a great interlude for the techno in the other two rooms.

Walking through the air heavy with the smell of Fabric’s distinctive incense, we entered Room 2 to Trevino in full force, halfway through his set playing Mosca’s remix of Trus’me’s track we’d heard in the main room. The layout of the room lends itself very well to more spaced out dancing and fit perfectly with the more house-range beats per minute that Trevino had chosen. His Marcus Intalex alias was slightly audible in this Trevino set, breaking away from the strict 4/4 format into something more dubby and beautifully bassy. The room was dedicated to Craig Richards’ Nothing Special label, providing something slightly different to the Fabric resident’s usual sound sound, epitomised by his lengthy sets with Villalobos in the main room. With some incredible releases like Trevino’s Backtracking and Sleeping Rough by Richards himself, The Nothing Special is definitely a label to watch, contrary to what its name suggests.

On your first visits to Fabric it’s easy to lose the people you came with and remain alone for periods. But the homely atmosphere for house and techno nights means that it almost doesn’t matter, as you know you’ll find them eventually. We made friends with one such guy and decided to head upstairs to take a little break in the outdoor courtyard before the anticipated main event. There was something different about the atmosphere on Saturday, the bouncers were friendlier than usual, which makes all the difference as someone who’s used Britain’s nicest security staff at Motion, Bristol.  The crowd we spoke to were also mostly there for the techno and, refreshingly, seemed extremely knowledgeable about it all; for a club of this size, it can sometimes fall victim to the more aimless party seekers, following the scent from their Farringdon office blocks, restaurants or bars.

When we returned, Room 1 was full with the sound of Fabric institution Terry Francis wrapping up his set with Mr. G’s TV Track (Extra Sauce), which perfectly set up for Ben Klock, now waiting in the shadows. With predictable efficiency, he started bang on 4am with Parris Mitchell & DJ Funk’s Follow Me Ghetto (Acid), but looped the first 4 bars to allow the crowd to settle before whacking on the bass and beginning the set in earnest. What followed was four and a half hours of flawless mixing from the Berghain resident. The first two hours were a lesson in pure techno, with a warm-up routine that included tracks like Jonas Kopp’s remix of Philip Row’s Slope.

For a man able to mix for 13 straight hours, it’s always interesting to see what he will come up with in shorter sessions. If the 74 minutes of his 2012 Fabric mix are anything to go by, Ben Klock is able to create an atmosphere in no time at all. It’s hard to recall a DJ engaging with the crowd in quite the way Klock did on Saturday. His eyes were rarely on the equipment apart from when mixing, instead choosing to lift his eyeline and focus on providing exactly what the crowd were looking for. This is something so many DJs miss and it really makes all the difference. Head-down DJing is all well and good, but smiling along with the crowd indicates a certain confidence with what they’re creating. As Ben puts it, his best sets are ‘when there are no thoughts in [his] head, when [he] just follows intuition’. That was fully evident at Fabric and made for a much nicer atmosphere with Ben happily indulging each and every fan who stuck out their hand or asked him something, with no detrimental effect on his music. How many top class DJs can you say that of?

The mid-point climax of the set was Robert Hood’s new ‘Re-Plant’ of his classic Never Grow Old, under his Floorplan alias. The completely blue lights continued to build as the vocal sample swelled; people cheered, but over the intense emissions of the sound system, they were hardly audible. The lights continued to get brighter and we all stood in a sea of royal blue until the track’s climax plunged the room into complete darkness. Klock’s chiselled features could be seen bobbing from side to side, clearly feeling it with the crowd, not standing back smugly at all.

This track heralded the start of a slightly new direction from the Berliner. Suddenly we were treated to tracks like Photek’s Glamourama with the gorgeous Italian vocal sample, and Alan Fitzpatrick’s forthcoming remix of I Want You by Trus’me. It’s a track that had been played earlier by Trus’me himself, but sounded close to perfection on the specially designed Martin Audio system in Room 1. The crowd started to thin out as we approached 8am and, as with any good Fabric party, that’s when you know that you’re in for a real treat. Starting with Tyree’s Nuthin’ Wrong, a track that carries so much weight on the dancefloor, something about the personability of Klock’s DJing made it feel like he was delving into your own catalogue of favourites and playing them just for your pleasure. This was no doubt a feeling shared throughout the crowd, which serves to further confirm his talents. I don’t think I’ve ever beamed with glee so much as I did from 8am onwards.

Another highlight of this last half hour was hearing the very distinctive percussion and groovy synth chords of Dump Truck by Cobblestone Jazz, Mathew Jonson’s experimental band. It’s a track that I would in no way associate with Ben Klock beforehand but, my goodness, did it have the desired effect. Everybody was clearly loving it, not that I moved my attention from Klock’s direction for the majority of the section. After the 8am mark, the scheduled time it was to finish, nobody was quite sure how long he would go on and this really added to the atmosphere; it was as if we were hanging on to every note for fear of it ending. The end was eventually signalled by Klock’s slow wave to the sounds of James Ruskin’s Detached, with its drawn out melody at the end. He indulged every hand-shake with his fans and then as simply as he had come to the decks, he floated back into the shadow to talk to a small posse of friends at the back of the booth.

With many years of taking in parties around the country, this humbled and seasoned partier struggles to remember a better DJ set. The music, the atmosphere, Klock’s demeanour and the venue all came together to provide pure, unadulterated pleasure. In a night peppered with incredible moments, the night as a whole was a testament to what Fabric do every single week. They play such a major part in the clubbing scene in the capital that it’s impossible to imagine it without them.

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