Harking back to the days when raves were held in warehouses, Manchester’s premier series of major dance parties celebrated 20 years since acid house with an impressive mix of live acts and djs who are hitting the peak of their form. It wasn’t a night of rehashing old favourites from decades ago, The Warehouse Project chose artists pushing acid sounds further as electro and techno with plenty of fist-clenched air punching along the way.
Already spinning the tunes in the vast space under Manchester Piccadilly station as I entered were Ed Banger’s DJ Medhi and Kanye West’s tour DJ A-Trak. Despite the cavernous surroundings, the main dancefloor area was already lapping up a pounding set packed full of French electro label Ed Banger’s hits including a hefty amount of current favrouites Justice. While admittedly easy to enjoy, the lack of variation was disappointing so when The Whip took to the stage it was pleasing to hear the band’s live drums and guitars blend with synths to dramatic effect. Their recent heavy touring schedule paid off as they gauged the energetic mood of the crowd and produced a performance to match.
The excitement of the night got too much for Vitalic.
Next up were Simian Mobile Disco whose DJ act continues to outshine a lukewarm live show as they can pepper their sets with hits such as “Hustler” and “Sleep Deprivation” without needing to rely on their weaker offerings. This was a confident display and built uo to electro band of the moment Digitalism. The German two-piece have been appearing a constant fixture on the club, gig and festival circuits this year, evolving their album into a mash up to impressive effect. While “Pogo” and “Idealistic” were the highlights, the mixing of other hits such as “Zdarlight”, “Jupiter Room”, “I Want I Want” and “Anything New” so skillfully into a constant wall of sound suggests their growing reputation will expect big things from them in the future.
By the time Digitalism had finished entertaining a now frenzied crowd, Ivan Smagghe had the unenviable task of going next. His more minimal style did not get the same enthusiasm, and was perhaps a strange choice for many, however given the pace so far it was a smart move on the organiser’s part with headliner Vitalic up next. The electro/techno favourite was on top form, dishing out anthems “La Rock 01” and “My Friend Dario” along with the sure-to-become favrouite “The 30,000 Feet Club”. The excitement of the night got too much for Vitalic as his normally precise and measured stage presence was abandoned at the end to do a little turn on the spot while waving his hands in the air. He was clearly having fun, and so was everyone else.
A lot of effort goes into making these events special, with visualisaions on the many brick walls, impressive lighting and an excellent sound system brought in for the 12-week, genre bending stint. This edition is sure to be a highlight for the people behind The Warehouse Project and evidence of why they put so much into it. Get yourself along to one in the run up to the new year if you can.