Django Django – Printworks, London – 23.03.18
Everyone has their favourite gig venue. For me it’s The Thekla, a venue on a boat moored up in the harbour in Bristol City Centre. It’s a small intimate place where over the years I have seen the fledging performances of many great acts. Venues are important – finding the right space, of the right size, in the right place is no easy feat – so indulge me for a few minutes as a take you by the hand into somewhere new and very special.
It was a London Friday night, the working week was over and you could almost taste the air of anticipation in the City for a big, boozy night out. I didn’t argue with this – with a companion I was off to see Django Django, out and about with their third album and new live show. Excitement was high as this comes off the back of a solid new record and I for one couldn’t wait to hear the likes of In Your Beat & Surface to Air in full force. The perfect way to slide into the weekend. But where we were headed? Not on the Victoria line to the O2 Brixton Academy or the Electric, neither were we north bound to KOKO or The Roundhouse, or trundling along the District line to that old girl Eventim Apollo (still more likely to be called Hammersmith Apollo) – all sound venues and obvious choices for a band at this point in their career. The location, south of the river was somewhere new and altogether different.
Printworks in Canada Water has hosted DJ’s, Secret Cinema and corporate events, to name a few enterprises, but this was the premier night for a gig. The ‘well where is it?’s were quickly put to bed with a slick operation guiding you from tube to venue, and as you entered and being (throughly) frisked by security you suddenly start to take in the size and scale of the venue. It is HUGE. As we moved into the space and explored, myself and my companion were like a pair of curious teenagers stumbling across a new den in the woods for the first time, taking in every little nook and venue-nuance, often taking a wrong turn or pausing for a moment of befuddlement to negotiate the many levels and different spaces. They’ve clearly spent some money in the conversion so it strikes the right tone between well worn factory chic and professional venue.
The main hall is a long, tall gargantuan space (one presumes where the actual printing presses of the name were housed). It is cavernous but with incredible acoustics and a huge lighting rig. To the left of this room runs a seemingly endless bar with such a broad selection on offer it would make a Wetherspoon innkeeper blush. Some great curation here – any venue with Beavertown on tap is a sure fire hit the Craft savvy Londoner. A long surrounding gantry offers additional viewing for disabled/VIP punters, with other bars and seating in various other areas. A festival style food court is also available with a diverse selection of independents present – my top spot was excellent fried chicken diner, Bird. The Control Room way up above the floor offers a smaller more private area for drinking and was still kitted out in various bells and whistles of it’s original function. I loved the use of strip lighting and bold colours to light the space which really added to the feel.
I couldn’t help while The Djangos belted out their set (which was excellent BTW) to continue to take in the surroundings – and many comparisons drifted into mind. The two most accurate on reflection akin to The Industrial Zone from The Crystal Maze, and a massive aircraft bay from an alien spaceship. A unique venue, and one which I can see many bands signing up to. It offers an experience larger than just the gig itself, and I imagine so much more space to play around with since it felt like we only inhabited a small portion of the space on the night.