For a club to exist for twenty years in the same location is an incredible feat. For a club to exist in the same location in a cut-throat and gentrified city such as London? That’s surely impossible.
Yet fabric did it. Aside from the unfortunate closure back in 2016, the Farringdon-based club managed to change the entire London clubbing landscape over the course of two continual decades. Moulding careers and shaping musical trends all within the walls of an old meat cellar building.
For the club’s twentieth anniversary, the team set out the XX series, twenty events featuring artists who’ve helped shape the club’s history. Unfortunately, there would be no extended birthday however there was little time for sob stories as a special Sunday session was announced. New resident and city-favourite Voigtmann would be warming things up whilst Raresh and Ricardo Villalobos went back-to-back for seven hours with Craig Richards acting as the cherry on top to round the night off.
I glided through the EC1 doors an hour into Villalobos and Raresh’s set, expecting it to be still filling out but to my surprise, and to the crowd’s testament, it was already full to the brim. As I glanced into the booth, Ricardo was already sweaty and Raresh was already grinning and swaying.
The pair were sowing together stretched out minimal and delicate house with surgical precision and thanks to the famed sound system, it was hardly lacking in kick. As the set progressed, the punchy drums and growling bassline of Boris Werner’s ‘Omar Coming‘ felt as though it kicked the night up a gear or two and the swirling bassline of Three Chair’s ‘Track 2 Track’ seemed to have an extra injection of boisterousness when it encountered the energy within the room.
Even the most staunch critics of the pairs’ ‘antics’ behind the decks whilst playing wouldn’t have been able to use their normal ammunition on the night. The Chilean and Romanian both laughed and socialised but once they were mixing, it was with the seriousness of a university exam. Fader and low-end flicks were still aplenty though.
The halfway point showcased quite possibly one of the most beautiful moments I’ve experienced at fabric. It was easy to hear the melody as soon as it was being blended in, as Villalobos twinkled in his remix of Fink’s Berlin Sunrise, a remix which is seemingly reserved for friends and special occasions. It was one of the moments of total consciousness unity, as smiles broke out, eyes filled with involuntary tears and the blissful melody of Fink resonated throughout the room.
The crowd was still bustling as the set was ready to close, with ‘Lobos was on the closing track duties, opting for a subtle remix of Gotye’s pop hit ‘Somebody I Used To Know’. An interesting choice to say the least, as the mesmerized crowd dug deep into their memories of 2011 to half-sing, half-mumble the lyrics. Some of the crowd enjoyed it, some rushed off to go get a drink but both parties would surely hold their hands up and pin it down as a quintessential Ricardo move.
Next up was Richards. I couldn’t help but break into a smile when I saw he was closing, Ricardo and Raresh closing seemed far too obvious but more importantly, over the past 20 years, he’s stepped aside for someone else to close on far too many occasions. The man who has helped define fabric and London’s soundscape really deserved this closing.
It clearly showed during his set, Richards wasn’t so interested in socialising behind the decks. He mixed with a seemingly mental map of which point in tracks to transition and which tracks to mix into. The menacing bassline and hardware bleeps of Santiago Uribe’s ‘Montevideo Electric Sound’ was an early reminder to the remaining crowd that this was not going to be a lovey-dovey house set.
In all honesty, it was the best I’ve seen Richards play. His entire musical taste was showcased, with the playful sound of Danny Tenaglia’s remix of The Ride Committee – Love To Do It along with fabric classics like Crash Course in Science’s ‘Flying Turns’. One of the key musical cornerstones of the night came from DJ Assassin’s ‘Face In The Crowd’ (Intellidread Mix). The whining and haunting melody whipping the crowd into an electrifying combination of goosebumps and pandemonium.
The closing tune was always going to have be special and most likely to the delight of avid Depeche mode Ricardo, it was to be Chambers’ remix of Depeche Mode’s I feel Loved. A rugged track in both bass and melody whilst Dave Gahan’s vocals resonated within the minds of all those present to signal a chilling ending to an ecstatic night.
The last I saw when walking back through the EC1 doors was Ricardo running across the bar with a bottle of bubbly. It could’ve been to celebrate the closing or it could’ve been to push it another couple of hours, but pseudo-Monday fatigue, unfortunately, kicked in despite the occasion.
As I took one last glance at the booth, Richards was wistfully glancing around the room and Villalobos was pouring out champagne at will. I looked up at the ‘XX’ LEDs installed in the ceiling for the night. fabric has made it this far in exquisite style, I don’t really see why there can’t be ‘XXX’ LEDs in 2029.
More info on fabric