The Hydra landed in London recently with the aim of providing our city with something comparative to The Warehouse Project (excuse the lazy comparison), unleashing a series of line-ups featuring the underground’s most acclaimed DJs and record labels – needless to say, it had many of us all in a tizz. Ostgut Ton, Dial Records and Deviation have been amongst the partners so far, and tonight’s proposition of two of Germany’s finest imprints - Innervisions and Permanent Vacation - showcasing their wares proved impossible to resist.
Comfortably sold out in advance, the party’s no-nonsense line-up of Âme, Dixon, Todd Terje, Tensnake and Prins Thomas promised great things. The party’s location - bordering the motorway in Hackney Wick - only heightens the sense of occasion, the desolate, industrial surroundings giving a nod to the genesis of the UK house and techno movement. The venue, Ican Studios, was virgin territory for this reviewer, and came as a very pleasant surprise compared to other ‘warehouse’ venues in the area.
The main room looks like it could be a purpose-built club, a dancefloor of large-but-not-overwhelming proportions overlooked by a spacious mezzanine level, stairs at either end allowing for ease of traversing. It’s clean, modern, and ever so slightly stylish. Room 2 meanwhile is a bit more ‘stripped-back’ as they say, all red-lighting and rough edges. The people behind The Hydra had a long history running in-house programming at Cable and The End before that, and know how to throw a comfortable party. Extra toilets, plenty of bar space, plenty of room to dance and a spacious smoking area all get the thumbs up from us.
Kristian from Âme and Dixon headed up back-to-back all night in the perfectly formed main room, giving patient punters just rewards for their concentration. Things started deep, with warm, pulsing tech the focus, beats often absent of the 2nd and 4th beat claps and snares that characterise house and techno. The effect is a slow-burning one as hi-hats ticked away while basslines brood and melodies tingle. Over the course of the night they provided a masterclass in 120 BPM-ish eclecticism, building their set up to a demure frenzy with tracks as diverse as Simian Mobile Disco’s spine-tingling Cerulean, Disclosure’s now-chart-smash Latch and Holy Ghost!’s new single It Gets Dark. All this in amongst the more familiar, trademark Innervisions sound, which worked so well on a commanding Funktion One rig in a big dark room. Their bravery and open-mindedness as DJs in their milieu is rarely paralleled and yields some stunning results - none more so for us than when they dropped Frank Ocean’s beautifully yearning Lost around 5:40 AM (or was it 6:40 AM? The clocks’ going back provided widespread confusion).
meanwhile In Permanent Vacation’s Room 2, Tensnake offered his usual ‘80s/’90s revivalism thang, right after Prins Thomas warmed the crowd up with quirky disco grooves. I’m not sure how Tensnake can call his set ‘live’ when he plays other people’s tracks in it (do we really need to hear Oliver $’s Doin’ Ya Thang again anyway?), but there’s no denying he ramps the mood up somewhat. There was a moment of Swedish House Mafia style trance synth overload that almost brought us close to chundering, driving us back into the open arms of Innervisions until Todd Terje steps up. It’s was the third time I’ve seen him play this summer, and on each occasion he has tailored his set perfectly to suit time, place and space. The East Village Mix of Phil Kieran and Bush Tetras’ Snakes Crawl eased us in with ‘70s sass, and from there-on the Nordic god lead us on a merry jaunt through house and diskotek flavours. Inspector Norse still goes off in a big way, of course.
Not only were the music and venue completely spot on, but we also had the pleasurable company of the best crowd I’ve partied with in London in ages. Clearly, these are people who know their stuff and aren’t just following the crowds. It makes all the difference - no attitude, appreciation for the music and all round great times. Quite simply one of the best parties London has seen all year.
Photgraphy courtesy of The Hyrda.