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WHERE LAB11, Trent Street, Digbeth, Birmingham
WHEN Every Saturday at LAB11
MUSIC The best names in techno from around the world
While some new clubs go for squeaky clean and shiny metallic spaces, LAB11 begs to differ. Birmingham’s brand new purpose built venue has a raw and underground aesthetic, driven by a pumping Funktion One soundsystem. Tall walls of exposed brickwork support a high ceiling dressed with futuristic and distinctive strip lights. But the club’s ethos is stripped back, humble and warehouse influenced, echoing the surrounding industrial area of Digbeth – which some are calling the new epicentre of English clubland.
The people behind it have nailed the essentials: sound, production and guest talent. Yet, as the main room fills to a thousand strong crowd of unhinged clubbers going wild to headliner Radio Slave’s tough house and techno, LAB11 owner Dee Dixon suggests, “you would have thought we were crazy to open the door if you had seen the state of the place at 8pm.” It’s ship-shape now though as the fresh faced ravers, hardened aficionados and techno spotters pile in, one guy punching the air on his way onto the dancefloor.
LAB11 is the comeback kid of infamous Birmingham promoters TRMNL, whose original club was controversially shut down back in 2009 amid noise complaints from angry residents. It’s back on form, with decent toilets, an accessible bar and bespoke sound and lighting. Down the corridor from the main floor, room 2 is smaller and darker, a perfect home for the lush, deep house tones of London duo Ethyl and Flori. Back in room 1, underground hero Mark Henning burrows deep into his bag for a selection of heavy, bass driven house and rolling techno as the crowd bust out an increasingly frantic set of moves.
After the gig, Matt Edwards, aka Radio Slave, suggests, “even if it isn’t quite finished yet, they should just leave it as it is.” And with the crowd dancing and sweating towards morning, it’s the atmosphere at TRMNL that provides the finishing touch.