Bugged Out! Meets The Boutique: London Fabric

Fatboy plays a secret set at this NME Carling Awards event at Fabric...

If one thing's for certain at Bugged Out!, it's that things are going to get pretty messy. From the steady trickle of people at the evening's start, by midnight the entirety of Fabric's cavernous, warren-like interior is stuffed to the gills with this second (third? tenth? who knows by now?) wave of acid house freaks. Eager to throw themselves into this wholly reliable crew's vision of 21st century beats, their dedication is unsurprising considering the consistently excellent stream of unsavoury characters roped in for deck manipulation.

Take Cassius for example. The Parisian duo look decidedly sordid as they spin out a sexy, funk-fuelled selection of cheeky, insouciant house music to an up-for-it audience. With a new album in progress, a couple of cheeky acetates from the studio promise much to look forward to come the autumn, as well as providing the incongruous spectacle of serious techno bod Dave Clarke self-consciously shuffling to Thomas Bangalter's 'Together'. You don't see that every day, that's for sure.

Meanwhile, Nightmares On Wax man DJ EASE is spinning earthy, blunted drum'n'bass in the cosy upstairs retreat, while German house / techno fusionist Ian Pooley is thumping out his usual selection to a Boutique room packed so tightly people are virtually climbing up the walls. The Bugged Out! punters are a discerning and tasteful bunch, after all, so it comes as something of a well-earned reward when a certain Mr Fatboy Slim arrives to play an unannounced, backroom set.

Fresh from father-hood, tonight the Slim is billed as plain old Norman Cook, a dressed-down billing that fits in with the stripped down, technoid four-to-the-floor belters he just knows this crowd loves. Away from the multi-million selling, tabloid-friendly pop image of the Fatboy, gigs like this are a chance for Cook to let his hair down and play it straight, reminding the club culture that spawned him that he hasn't forgotten his roots, thank you very much, and that he can still rock the party as hard as the most staunchly anti-commercial deck freaks.

The only way to wash this down, of course, is with a deck-pounding electro-techno lesson from Dave Clarke. After years in a label-less wilderness, Clarke's seamless party-punishing aural assaults have ensured that his profile is now higher than ever, and with weapons like an S&M electro-fried bootleg of 'I Wanna Be Your Dog' and his own 'The Compass' in his box, it's no wonder why.

All of which leaves chunky prog-trancer Timo Maas to finish things off in his inimitable 'wet and hard' fashion. Another man with a brace of new offerings in his bag, he deservedly wears the teutonic grin of a man who knows he has club culture by the balls and is just about to squeeze. What more could you need on a Friday night?

John Hall

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