- Leaving Canada Water tube station on Saturday afternoon, you may have thought there was a festival going on. Groups of young ravers in white T-shirts and side bags gathered excitedly in the sun, nursing cans of lager. In fact, they were there for DJ Koze's album launch party at Printworks, though the buzz around these limited-run events evokes a similar sense of occasion.
After a smooth entry, it quickly became clear that the only bugbear from Resident Advisor's last review—the sound—had been rectified, thanks to the venue's newly installed d&b audiotechnik system. The main room, Press Halls, is long and narrow with neck-achingly high ceilings, a space that demands a crisp, powerful rig. I kept thinking it reminded me of a cathedral. Room two, Charge Bay, is more intimate. On Saturday, it played host to acts like Auntie Flo and Scott Grooves, though the room, tucked away in a corner, was only ever sparsely attended.
The production in Press Halls was spectacular. Inspired by the space's industrial past—Printworks was home to a newspaper-printing facility for 24 years—huge lighting panels hung from the ceiling, rising, falling and twisting over the crowd like cranes in a glittering sky. Vertical panels lined the walls, flashing geometric shapes courtesy of Rebel Overlay, a visual arts company that has worked with the night's promoter, The Hydra, since the beginning. Spotlights swivelled and flashed from up above and behind the booth. During Motor City Drum Ensemble's afternoon set, the lighting bathed the crowd in warm pinks and oranges, fitting tones for sunny selections like Roger Thornhill's "Need Somebody" and funkier cuts such as DJ Deeon's "Shake What Ya Momma Gave Ya."
The lights were engineered by the respected technician Robert Grunwald, AKA Tiefton. As Mano Le Tough transitioned from day into night with the searing vocals of Loleatta Holloway's "Hit It N Quit It (Cratebug & Jamie 3:26 Edit Remix)" and the trancey synths of "Zillion" by Locked Groove, Grunwald's expertise came into play. Pinks and oranges made way for icy blues and greens, as lasers pierced through the haze of the smoke machine.
Le Tough closed with "Planet Hase," his collaborative contribution to the new DJ Koze album, Knock Knock. Koze took the helm for an electric set, during which vibrant rainbow spotlights criss-crossed the crowd, and sparkles ricocheted off the walls thanks to a large disco ball. After warming up with cuts like Girls Of The Internet's "When U Go' (MoBlack Remix)," he favoured his own material in the final hour. "XTC" and his edit of Låpsley's "Operator" were met with rapturous responses, while thousands of eyes lit up at the opening bars of "Pick Up," Koze's latest summer anthem.
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