London's Fabric is the superclub with respectability. It was the first of London's major clubs to promote electro-house and minimal, its monthly CD releases are widely acclaimed, and its roster of regulars - Michael Mayer, Ricardo Villalobos and Akufen, among others - is testament to its cutting edge status. With Friday's Fabriclive playing breakbeat and drum n bass and Saturdays devoted to variants of 4/4, it has most bases covered, and its soundsystem is regularly touted as among the best in the world.
These factors, and a line-up to die for, contributed to the massive queues and sardine-tin floors of Saturday's turn to celebrate the club's seventh birthday. With Villalobos, Lindstrom, Matthew Dear, Troy Pierce and Swayzak all on the bill, alongside resident Craig Richards, that it was going to be crowded was of no surprise, but once inside many were talking about it being the busiest night the club had seen. An attempted wander from room to room, slowly weaving through the hordes, and I wasn't about to argue.
The birthday mood seemed to have infected everyone, from the door and bar staff to the punters, with all in jovial spirits. A look at the schedule and rooms 1 and 2 seemed designed to share a mood of streamlined minimalism, with the sounds emanating from both floors conspicuously similar early on, but as Lindstrom took to the stage room 1 was transformed into a throbbing space disco. Lindstrom's trademark sound is, for the most part, hardly unique, best described as a fusion of gushing house with minimlism's repetitive streak, but when the strings surged in during 'I Feel Space' that giddy disco bump seemed entirely new and exciting. The final high came in the form of an old Wolfgang Voigt Speicher tune, left to grind for its entirety and brought back on for an audience- prompted reprise. As an early evening kick start, his set was masterful.
Andrew Weatherall took over and was immediately harder and faster, but nonetheless a fitting follow up. As things progressed melody and treble were replaced by harsher and darker themes, not dissimilar from later moments on his Fabric CD. Before his set finished we attempted to get into Room 2 to see Troy Pierce but the sea of humanity was overwhelming. We sat down and caught the gist of some clicky treated vocal number along the lines of 'Grace (Anxiety)' so things seemed fine for those lucky (or brave) enough to be in the thick of things.
Upstairs and the loft of Room three with Ron Trent was jacking to smooth but unrelenting vocal house which, against my usual temperament, I was thoroughly digging. While the top end may have been richer than what was on offer downstairs the bass and drums were no less punishing, with one mix moving to hardcore acid-fulled banging that left Weatherall looking lightweight. The warmth returned but the diversity on offer was further proof of Fabric's skilful programming.
As the night wore on we sought refuge and space, settling into our perch in the la-di-dah VIP room. The wall-to-wall smiles and friendly chit-chat from all we encountered caught me off guard, our fellow VIPs clearly as pleased to be there as we were. By now Craig Richards was hammering it home, moving from bright, shuddering techno to flatter and more percussive sounds as the changeover to Villalobos approached. I missed Ricardo's entrance thinking Richards was still playing, but soon we were unmistakably in Chilean territory. Long, patient mixes, where each track carefully segued into its neighbour, with small percussive detail take precedence over colour and melody - its involving but deeply satisfying music. By the time we left at 9am, with crowds of Sunday revellers queuing to enter, we'd missed many enticing acts in room 2 - Matthew Dear, Matthew Styles and Claude Von Stroke - but nights like these are always a matter of compromise. Fabric can throw one hell of a party.