[Above Image Credit: Robert Johnson]
Robert Johnson, and Offenbach – the suburb of Frankfurt in which it is situated, are synonymous with minimal dance music. Equally so is former Frankfurt resident, Zip aka Thomas Franzmann, co-founder of the infamous Perlon label, and Binh, whose popularity has soared over the past two years and now is as commonly seen at festivals such as Houghton and Melt as he is at Club Der Visionaire. Having seen neither DJ or visited Robert Johnson, the first evening of the club’s birthday celebrations was the perfect opportunity to cross several items off the clubbing bucketlist.
19 Jahre Robert Johnson Poster by Studio Michael Satter
Upon arriving at the club just after 00:30 the first few hours were spent meeting other clubbers and relaxing on the balcony as Bodin&Jacob warmed up the dancefloor perfectly over their 4 hour set.
At around 03:30 the Frankfurt natives, Bodin&Jacob made way for Zip who treated the audience to a masterclass in house music. Having held a residency at RJ, it was clear that Franzmann knew the nuances of the soundsystem, and hence carefully selected plenty of bass heavy records that would be brought to life through the club’s Martin Audio soundystem. Every track Zip played, whether it be jackin’ house, acid, or minimal, sounded exceptional and was mixed in a precise, uncomplicated manner making it difficult to leave the dance floor over the course of his set.
One of the many highlights from his set was the selection of Joe’s latest Hessle Audio releases, Tail Lift. The zany melody and eccentric drum breaks were perfectly showcased through the RJ sound system, resulting in one of the biggest reactions from the crowd all evening.
As the sun rose and Binh took to the decks at around 06:00, the dancefloor remained pitch black, resisting a return to the real world. He instantly ramped the intensity up another notch, playing a hybrid of tech house, techno and electro, and tracks which blur the lines between all of the aforementioned genres. The majority of his set sounded as though it were broadcast to earth from another planet and the selections were fittingly deep and weird for the last few hours of the night. The one sour point was the lack of a back-to-back set to close out the evening between the two masterful DJs.
On their 19th birthday, Robert Johnson surpassed all expectations, providing a clubbing experience unlike any I had encountered to date. The club’s strength is in its simplicity: minimalist interior, location of the booth which connects the DJ with their audience, and the wonderful Martin Audio soundsystem.
Having met clubbers from other parts of Germany, Belgium and Wales to name a few, it was clear that RJ embraced multiculturalism rather than shunning it, as has felt the case at other clubs around Europe, where at times you feel alienated or unwanted as a tourist.
View from the Robert Johnson balcony
As the night came to an end, the majority of ravers relaxed outside on the balcony, socialising and watching vehicles drive over the Kaiserleibrücke. As the music was stopped, the crowd applauded Binh and the other DJs for a night that will last long in their memory.
Written By: James Acquaye Nortey-Glover