Printworks London Issue 001 Retrospective

The curtain came down on the first music series at Printworks London on Sunday, April 30th as Issue 001 drew to a close. Over the course of 15 shows, club brands, labels and festivals were among the curators of daytime parties in the vast industrial space formerly used as a printing hall, while two evening gigs saw Booka Shade and a tribute to Studio 54 offer more familiar gig experiences. We look back on how Printworks London quickly became a showpiece venue for electronic music.

The industrial techno of Photon with Ben Klock, Marcel Dettmann, Ben Sims, Planertary Assualt Systems and Etapp Kyle seemed composed specifically for the Printworks finale.

In January we summed up the 10 reasons we got excited about the forthcoming opening of Printworks. Our hopes were met, and exceeded, as Issue 001 developed into an audio-visual spectacular. Our favourite shows were Nina Kraviz’s Galaxiid where live sets from Dopplereffekt, PTU and Bjarki plus the DJ sets from Luke Vibert and Kraviz herself offered dynamic takes on acid, techno and electro; the Some Voices tribute to Studio 54 where the venue came alive to a 500-strong choir singing classics by Diana Ross, Chic, Prince, David Bowie and Donna Summer supported by the biggest disco balls you’ve ever know; two Hydra shows where disco balls ruled the Press Halls with Daphni, Motor City Drum Ensemble, Gold Panda, Antal and Jeremy Underground the stand-out performers; and of course the industrial techno of Photon with Ben Klock, Marcel Dettmann, Ben Sims, Planertary Assualt Systems and Etapp Kyle which seemed composed specifically for the Printworks finale.

So how do those 10 reasons we were excited in the first place shape up now? Let’s see…

1) Daytime raving is socially acceptable
This was proven true with all but a few shows selling out in advance, and 4pm becoming a crucial time when the venue became noticeably full. You could be forgiven for thinking you’d walked into a 2am party by 7pm - especially thanks to the lack of daylight throughout the venue.

2) A unique industrial setting
The huge loading bays and large open spaces were well utilised exceptionally well for reasons listed below - there is unlikely to be another venue like Printworks so hats off those responsible for seeing the potential and not just providing Londoners with another batch of swanky flats on what is likely a valuable plot of land developers will have had their eyes on.

3) It’s fully soundproofed
Approaching Printworks from Canada Water, past the shopping centre and on the walk through its ground you really could not hear a peep emenating from its speakers, nor vibrations through its foundations. ITt was only when you step inside the first door you can hear music - and that’s just from the low volume speakers welcoming you rather than the main room stacks.

4) The soundsystems are top notch
A few teething issues with the set up in the Print Halls on the launch day meant an extra stack was needed to keep the music loud from front to back, however these were installed swiftly. We enjoyed plenty of sets at the back of the Press Halls by the sounddesk as much as down the front. It’d be nice to have some speakers above the dancefloor as well as down the sides if that’s possible. Meanwhile in the Charge Bay there were times when the sound set up seemed a little off, yet sets by Joel Mull and Willow showed the space has plenty of potential.

5) The main space lighting will be unique
Just look at the pictures on this page to see the results of a moveable lighting rig, unique laser arrays and disco balls. They speak for themselves in showing how much the Press Halls were as visually spectacular as they were sonically.

6) You’ll be able to enjoy a wide variety of bars
From draft beers and bottles of wine to cocktails and espresso martinis (which likely have a new army of fans), Printworks delivered a fine array of drinks to enjoy. The hipsters might like to see a few more craft options or perhaps a gluten free beer, but there was something for everyone. One downside was despite the lack of a long waiting time at the main space bars, the quick serve bar in the entrance hall always seemed to have a long queue. Perhaps restricting this bar to bottles and cans might be wise to speed it up.

7) There will be serious food options
Two food stalls per day event proved an ideal way to refuel throughout the day with Night Tails on residency for Issue 001 joined by an array of guests. This area evolved to ensure the smokers were segmented from the eaters and seating become a more prominent feature, however some cover from the elements would be perferable for Issue 002 - especially on rainy days when the only cover was huddling in the doorways.

8) No more queuing for coats and bags
The success of lockers at Tobacco Dock rolled nicely into Printworks making for easy access to a secure space for coats and bags. There were times when they became full suggesting more might be needed, but the cloakroom meant we were never lacking storage facilities.

9) Seating and chill out areas
Sitting down at London venues is normally comes at a premium, whereas Printworks managed to get enough benches in to always offer a bit of chill time whether it was right by the main space to enjoy the music, or nestled round the corner with a chance to have an in-depth catch up or over by the cocktail bar in ear-shot of the Charge Bay when room two was open. Perfect for those on days out with not-oft-seen friends.

10) The venue’s potential
The Some Voices tribute to Studio 54 saw a 500-strong choir mobilised across the mezzaine as well as the main space to create a dynmica vocal delivery combined with a mid-room catwalk as a focal point for guest singers and a dance-off. There is surely more to come from Printworks as the venue is developed.

Looking forward

Ahead of Issue 002 at Printworks London, there are three diverse shows coming up. The Afropunk Weekender on Saturday, July 22nd and Sunday, July 23rd will be a celebration multiculturalism and diversity for people of all races, genders, colours, creeds and tastes. Lianne La Havas, NAO, Danny Brown, Thundercat, JME, Willow Smith and The Heavy are among the acts confirmed to play.

On Friday, September 8th and Saturday, September 9th Beavertown Brewery will take over Printworks London for their extravaganza hosting more than 70 breweries from around the world for a craft beer festival. On Friday, November 10th Ghostpoet will play live.

*For more details about Afropunk, the Beavertown Extravaganza and Ghostpost are lined up for Printworks in the coming months. For details go to

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