It’s a Friday night in Hackney Wick and hundreds of club-goers in their late teens and early twenties line up outside London’s Colour Factory. A swarm of sad boys and girls wait patiently as security vets the crowd. Breaking through the drained-out sea of True Religion jeans and Osiris D3s, a lone punter attempts to hop the fence, but is swiftly tackled to the ground by security. This isn’t your average club night, nor is this your average club crowd. “Wow these people are, like, actual fans,” remarks a friend – and they’re right. From the uniform dress code to the general vibe (aloof), the energy is heavy with silent anticipation.
We’re here for Berlin producer Mechatok’s Natural Mind: a night of B2B sets from some of the underground’s finest talent, featuring the likes of Cartier God, Elysia Crampton, Kamixlo, Klein and Felix Lee. Adding to that is the unignorable presence of Drain Gang’s Bladee and Ecco2k, who are due to perform individual sets later that night. Crowds flood into Room 1, undeterred by the sweaty heat. Others rush to the smokers area and wait eagerly by the merch stand to cop limited-edition t-shirts.
For the uninitiated, the hype surrounding Drain Gang, and the artists affiliated with the scene, might come as a surprise. The internet-born group has been making moves in the underground for years now, emerging out of the same Swedish rap scene that gave birth to the likes of Yung Lean and Sad Boys. But years of pandemic have sparked the interest of a fresh generation of terminally online youth, inspiring a legion of baby-faced Soundcloud producers who aspire to follow in their footsteps, as well as a legion of hyper-dedicated fans whose obsession can be felt across countless fan pages, Reddit threads and meme pages (a r/sadboys Reddit thread dedicated to this specific night is already abuzz with live clips and track IDs).
Nowadays, Drain is a mainstream presence across the music landscape. Whether it’s Bladee’s capsule collection with Marc Jacob’s Heaven or Spotify declaring ‘drain’ an official genre, their lo-fi influence can be felt across pop culture – no doubt bolstered by the success of the group‘s world tour last year. We sent Mechatok and Bladee to capture the night’s action – check out their photos in the gallery above.