Gig Review: The Hydra At Printworks, London

All images courtesy: Jake Davis

All images courtesy: Jake Davis

London’s famed venue Printworks reopened its doors for the new season following a quick summer break earlier in June with an absolutely stacked lineup as part of The Hydra showcase. Spread over three days during the August Bank Holiday weekend, the billing featured names such as German composer and producer Nils Frahm, English producer Tom Middleton, techno royalty Jeff Mills, Ben Klock, Helena Hauff, Carl Craig, Model 500 and many more.

The weekend kicked off on the 23rd August, with a live performance from Nils Frahm, and Tom Middleton performing Global Communication’s seminal album ‘76:14‘ in its entirety. As Tom Middleton kickstarted the proceedings of the evening, the Live Hall flowed with ambient drones of the record, taking everyone back to the much simpler times of 1994. The lush soundscape of the album, coupled with the expansive interiors added to the charm, as well as setting up the stage for the genius that is Nils Frahm. The German composer wasted no time in showcasing his dexterity at hand as he took the audience on a captivating sonic journey, spellbound with his manic energy on stage. With a setlist consisting of his vast catalogue, Frahm did, however, play ‘Says‘, a track which he self admittedly hates performing live due to its popularity and concluded the 90 minute performance with ‘For – Peter – Toilet Brushes – More‘, bringing the night to a close with a stripped and abridged rendition of the 16 minute track.

If Day 1 was a sombre affair, Day 2 was an all-out attack on the auditory and visual senses, featuring some of the most respected names in techno. If Detroit was represented by Jeff Mills, Model 500 and Terrence Dixon, Germany had representation from hard hitters including Ben Klock (Berlin), Helena Hauff (Hamburg) and Mor Elian (Berlin), and the winners here were clearly the people in the crowd, who got to witness what can only be described as an “education in techno“.

Taking over the Press Halls, Helena Hauff went all out with a set which was just the right combination of electro, acid and industrial techno, paving the way for Detroit Techno pioneer Juan Atkins’ Model 500 project. A legend in every sense, Model 500’s live set did lack the flow I was expecting from an artist of his calibre, and his mixing of hip hop near the end did leave me a little confused. However, all of that vanished as soon as Ben Klock took over. Bringing his brand of hard-hitting, cutting edge techno to the fore, the Berghain resident carried on with his onslaught for 2 hours, dishing out some seriously aggressive basslines and left the crowd wanting for more, just in time for the final act of the night.

As Jeff Mills took to the console, I was steadily excited to see one of the most revered names in electronic music take the crowd on a journey with his set. As an artist who embodies the ‘Art of DJing‘ perfectly, Jeff Mills’ set was an absolute pleasure to witness as he held the attention of everyone in the room that night and controlled them effortlessly. Mills’ brand of stripped-down, industrial techno served as the perfect accompaniment to the peak of the night as The Wizard delivered, without a doubt, the finest set of the weekend, as well as setting some high standards for all the acts set to play at Printworks’ upcoming Autumn Winter 2019 season.