For the past few years, since my interest directed itself towards the clubbing scene, there has been one event everyone around me has been talking about. The annual line-up announcements are preceded by weeks of chatter; booking speculations and defiant statements of intent, swearing attendance to this apparently momentous occasion. I never quite understood the hype, the cynic that I am, associating excitement with inevitable let-down; and so with mixed emotions I made my way to Manchester, home of the Warehouse Project, to see what the fuss was about.
One of the most historic Warehouse Projects yet, showcasing the final stand of the 50Weapons label, with Rødhåd, Siriusmodeselektor, Truncate, Dark Sky, Clark, Addison Groove, and the rest testing British build quality. The label’s end has been lamented as the biggest tragedy of dance music this year, as saying goodbye to ten years of service and an all-star roster can be, but there were no tears shed at this event.
The venue is hidden away near Manchester Piccadilly station, the entrance a gap in a wall under a bridge. I say hidden, but it was hard to miss with the amount of security set up outside – from pat-downs to dogs – methodically ushering the crowds into the dark innards of the bridge. There was a feeling that I wasn’t supposed to be seeing this location, hidden in plain sight, that hundreds of people unknowingly walk past every day. Upon entering the structure I was immediately lost in cavernous red-brick (as if you can tell in the dark) rooms full of bustling ravers, all facing two stages at opposite ends of the venue. The light shows were impressive and unique to every artist, each performance is clearly separated from the last, making it seem like a kind of honour for the artist to be present. Surprisingly, I found gourmet food being served in the smoking area and a variety of affordable cocktails at the bar. This is an event that is prepared for anything its patrons might desire, leaving it hard to not have a good time. After a short wander around the space the fuss friends, strangers and acquaintances had been making was explained.
Even more impressive was the religious following of this event, as it seemed people had travelled from around the world for this night. These were not just students or young professionals living in Manchester, they were people who had travelled from France, Switzerland, Spain, even Germany (a Berghain regular proclaimed his love of the event to me) just for the weekend, or even the night. If this is the crowd that attends every Warehouse Project, then it is a crowd that has invested hundreds of pounds to live it up on this one night, undoubtedly contributing to the unique atmosphere.
Of course, the system and the music did not disappoint. I was particularly surprised by Clark’s live set, beginning with the somber melodies that define him before ramping up into, what must have been over, a 140 bpm marathon set. From this Truncate made his appearance on the main stage, delving into what a bystander announced to be “sounds of scratching metal”, in a set showcasing the best of 50weapons techno. From the gloom of Truncate, Modeselektor built up to a live-set with Siriusmo. The performance was unbelievably varied, moving from left-field house to dub before the crux of German Clap and Evil Twin. The level of interaction with the crowd was incredible, Gernot Bronsert grabbed the microphone and began cheering “modeselektor” before breaking out the deep vocals of Evil Twin, joining the crowd’s cheers. Last but not least, I enjoyed Rødhåd’s militant thumping, that I’m sure we are all acquainted with by now, adequately placed in the closing slot. I remember the bitter-sweet, minor-key synths escorting me to my 4.50 am train.
Needless to say, I will be attending the Warehouse Project again. If you haven’t been you should go, there aren’t really any excuses especially if you live in England and enjoy dance music. This is the closest you can get to a festival in the winter months, without the inconvenience (to some) of having to camp out. Those Europeans were having the best time, and you could be too.
More info on the rest of WHP shows: https://www.thewarehouseproject.com/