March 2017 saw my first trip to Prague, a weekend fuelled by a desire to check out off-the-radar music scenes, sample the very best in Eastern European beer, and find some cool underground venues.
We’d heard rumours that beneath the renaissance exterior lay a darker side to this city, out of the public eye, in a comparison some people put together with a ’90’s Berlin’ vibe. This was exactly what I wanted to tap into. Having been to Berlin a few years ago I’d experienced a small amount of continental European techno – and with a flavour in my mind I wanted to uncover Prague’s very own techno scene for myself.
Finding the right venue and music meant staying away from the mainstream parts of town. Clubs like ‘Roxy’, which just days earlier had played host to Dixon, sounded impressive but weren’t screaming out as something new and exciting to jump into. I’d heard about a venue near the outside of town which played some cool nights and decided to track it down.
‘Meet Factory’……Yeah it’s a lovely name eh? Hearing that you’d probably think it was spelt with an ‘a’ and was an ex-abattoir or something equally as pleasant. So this was the name of the venue we found, playing host to a night called “Harmony with Hydrangea, Milena Kriegs & Inner Shapes”. An all girl DJ event where the page boasted a whole 22 people attending with the tagline “Don’t be an asshole. Don’t bring an asshole, assholes are going to be brought out.” Intriguing. We headed out to Prague’s Smíchov quarter to check it out for ourselves.
The place wasn’t hard to find, in a unique space squeezed between a motorway and an active railway (to my friend’s distaste “Sam we are not crossing that railway”) – Luckily there was a bridge. And for 250 Czech Koruna, we were in.
We were instantly greeted by techno/dubby/ambient producer from Poland, Milena Kriegs. The sound was instantly recognisable with a quintessential techno bpm. Kriegs has previously released tracks on Portugues label Reaktivate and Spanish Semantica Records, so we knew we were in for a good show. The lighting was incredible and as the dark vibes rumbled through the night we watched Milena’s set, before taking a break to return to the sound of French newcomer Hydrangea.
Hydrangea’s sound screams that industrial techno loop which as the volume is increased, only serves to ramp up it’s intensity. The ‘Annulled Music’ imprint has released Hydrangea’s debut album, called ‘Dawn Lights’, a real voyage of discovery for your senses to gel with, or in our case get blown away by. The night ticked on, and Hydrangea’s sound began to envelop the room.
Hydrangea played until the early hours and not once did the intensity give way, the interior architecture of the place (cinema seats stuck to the ceiling with freaky mannequins seated upside down) only adding to the overall sensory overload.
It was a great night. And one that will not be forgotten. Speaking with a few French guys outside the front, we were apparently “extremely lucky” to have stumbled upon this kind of night in a town where techno is “rare”. I can’t say I know Prague well, but I suspect that our experience in Meet Factory was only the tip of the ice burg for this city’s vibrant underground music scene.
Until next time Prague.