Last weekend saw the story end for one of London’s most unique and striking venues. Always destined to be a short term project, Broadwick Live (who also manage Printworks London and Mayfield Depot among other venues) took control of the site on a three year contract. Previously operating as a gasworks between 1930 – 1970, the space which consisted of industrial warehouse units and large open space, became a multi-purpose venue for music events, photography and film.
Opening its doors in July 2019, The Drumsheds’ inaugural show was helmed by another Broadwick backed project; Field Day festival. After becoming an instant hit with ravers, hosting the likes of Circoloco, elrow and RTRN II JUNGLE, the venue looked set to have a bright future. Sadly, with the pandemic hitting soon after in 2020, the space was forced to close for the majority of the three year deal.
However, with restrictions easing during the tail-end of summer 2021, the outdoor space of the site was able to host open-air events with Anjunadeep, ABODE, and Defected. Squeezing in some warehouse shows before their inevitable closure saw Fisher, Carl Cox and Andy C grace The Drumsheds’ cavernous units. All before The Hydra set up shop on January 29th as the site opened its doors for the final time.
For the final show, two indoor spaces were in action; Unit 5 (the largest warehouse) and Unit 9. Another warehouse which runs parallel to Unit 5 (Unit 4) was also put to use as a bar and VIP section towards the back. All three areas ooze industrial aesthetic with metal structures, exposed brick walls and concrete flooring giving that illegal rave feel.
A slickly-run operation inside and out of the venue, with an ample amount of staff on hand ready to help with a smile. Entry took no longer than 5-10 minutes and bars were fully manned at all times to keep queue times to a minimum.
The majority of drink prices were typical of a London venue with Beer/cider priced at £5.50 and soft drinks costing £3.50. However, if you prefer a mixer or wine, you’d need to cough up a bit more cash.
Koppaberg/Asahi (330ml can) : £5.50
Spirit & mixer : £8.00 -£12.00 single, £11.00 – £15.00 double
Wine (187ml – 200ml can) : £7.50 – £8.50
Softs (250ml can) : £3.50
With the diverse and eclectic music on offer, so was the crowd with a mixture of backgrounds, ages and cultures coming together to party one last time in this one of a kind venue. On the whole nothing but positive vibes, although Unit 9 did become a bit overcrowded at times with some (who may have had a little too much) feeling the need to barge through the masses with no spacial awareness.
Being such vast spaces, the cavernous warehouses were on the colder side when arriving. However, once in full swing with a packed out crowd the temperature balanced out to a comfortable level.
Production and Sound
Never one to take production or audio lightly, events at Broadwick Live venues consistently have outstanding audio and visual spectacles for ravers. Entering Unit 5, an unmissable, giant disco ball hung from the roof of the warehouse. With lighting from Rob Tiefton and visuals from Rebel Overlay, they’ve worked with Hydra since their inception in 2014 and brought 80 Beam Lights, 12 Spot Lights, and 45 Strobe lights for their final event.
Trippy, mind-bending visuals could be seen throughout the day on the giant LED screen, and when those beam lights hit the disco ball… well just take a look at the John Hopkins video below – what a spectacle. Unit 9 saw a similar affair but on a smaller scale, with spotlights, strobes, and LED sunstrips creating a flurry of energy throughout the day – proper warehouse vibes. In this unit, you could also go behind the DJ booth, creating that Boiler Room type vibe. If you were lucky, you might have even got some vodka from Moodymann and Carl Craig back there.
Sound was clean and crisp all day – with tweaks and adjustments constantly being made as the venue filled up. With warehouses, it’s common for bass to reverb and bounce all around the walls, but this was not a problem here. Huge stacks sat at the front of Unit 9, while Unit 5 had hanging line arrays all the way through the venue. To sum up, you could feel the low end in your chest while the mids and highs still shone through no matter where you stood – bravo.
TSHA & Effy
Two starlets who have been lighting up the scene of late with their infectious beats and charismatic performances. Crowned BBC Radio 1’s breakthrough artist of the year, TSHA has gone from strength to strength in recent years. Meanwhile Effy continues to her upward trajectory following a jam-packed schedule in 2021 which included a residency with The Warehouse Project and supporting on Mall Grab’s UK tour.
Keeping the crowd on its toes from the get-go, TSHA & Effy proved to be the perfect pairing. Feeding off each other’s energy, it felt like they were in a friendly competition to wow one another. Dipping & diving between techno, breaks, and even some rave classics.
The sounds of Effy’s own 2021 release “Raging” reverberated around Unit 9’s exposed brick walls shortly before a synth frenzy from Tommy Holohan’s “Subaru Impreza” upped the ante. “Bring in the Katz” by KW Griff has been a regular feature in TSHA’s sets, constantly receiving an emphatic reaction from the crowd and The Hydra was no exception. As they continued to manoeuvre through different genres with ease, a highlight moment came from KiNK’s remix of the rave anthem “Hey Boy, Hey Girl” by The Chemical Brothers. The catchy vocals rang around Unit 9 with the entire warehouse singing along. Just when we thought the atmosphere couldn’t get any more electric, the iconic “Smack My Bitch Up” by The Prodigy had the room’s energy at an all time high. Our standout set of the day.
The only artist on the lineup playing solo, multi-genre musician Jon Hopkins took the reins in the cavernous Unit 5. Aside from performing around the globe, the English-born artist has seen chart success from his production in the UK and US, previously working with the likes of Coldplay, Brian Eno and David Holmes. A true musician in every sense of the word, we were intrigued to see what direction he would take us.
Taking us on a rollercoaster journey, the two hour performance was littered with emotive melodies, mind-altering synths and hair-raising breakdowns. Kolsch’s remix of “618” by GUI Boratto being a prime example; transcending the crowd into a euphoric state. More standout moments came from the explosive sounds of “T1” by Industrialyzer and The Advent before effortlessly veering into the unsettling depths of Hivemind (Charles Oliver remix).
Moodymann b2b Carl Craig
Two of the most revered veterans of the scene, Moodymann and Carl Craig are two DJs you never want to miss. Kenny Dixon Jr, better known as Moodymann is an early evangelist for the Detroit house sound, and even teaching the legendary DJ Stingray how to mix back in the 90s. His infamous sample-heavy productions match his unrivalled voice on the mic – easily one of the coolest DJs around. Carl Craig is one of the original Detroit techno pioneers, paving the way for the future of the genre in the late 80s and through the 90s. Constantly evolving their sound, showcasing new and classic tunes, we were excited to see what they would bring when stepping up to the turntables together.
Moodymann and Carl Craig brought an arsenal of records packed with groove and style to Unit 9. Blending between house, techno, and disco with ease, we heard tunes from the 80s right up to 2022. “Maven” by Bohemien & Raf Parola pumping through the system was a standout moment for the crowd, especially when that gnarly and gritty synth filled the room. “Party On” from 80s disco outfit Pure Energy provided the feel-good sing a long vibes, while Robert Hood’s “Dancer” was another memorable moment. That bassline and melody is killer on the dance floor!
The final Drumheads was a bitter sweet day for us. The sound, production, performances and crowd were on point all day, the perfect setting for a warehouse rave with an eclectic selection of DJs and purveyors of the underground sound. Bar and toilet queues were swift (bring your own hand sanitiser though as it always runs out!).
Those warehouse units really are meant for raving in. However, knowing it is the last event to be hosted there leaves a bitter taste in the mouth, we want to see more venues opening, not closing! But fear not, Broadwick will no doubt have plans to open more new unique spaces for us to rave in very soon. In the meantime, hats off to them and The Hydra, what a way to see off The Drumsheds.