Over the Summer I found myself chatting to somebody from Manchester, and we were talking about our first experiences with Nights Out. My first ever night out had been a jaunt to the glitz and glamour of St. Helens for a friends 17th Birthday, and his had been to The Warehouse Project. Renowned across the UK for having pretty much the entire monopoly on Manchester’s Nightlife from September through to the New Year, the Warehouse Project has built quite a name for itself, and getting straight to the point – it lives up to the hype.
Now I’m going to preface this review by asserting that it is a review of a night out. Waking up in the afternoon after the 6am train home from Manchester, cradling my head in my hands and trying to piece the night together wasn’t the easiest task – there are periods of my evening that still remain somewhat patchy; but let’s give it ago shall we?
If the fact that you’ve got to travel to Manchester puts you off at all, don’t let it. The train (without a railcard) cost me a delightful £12 with return, you can pre on the TransPennine express, and WHP on Store Street is a literal three-minute walk from Piccadilly station; not in a Warehouse at all as it happens, but in a sizeable disused air raid shelter / car park below the station. It is here that we encounter one of my few gripes with the night on the whole: the 10:30pm last entry time. This is somewhat ridiculous considering a) It’s open until 5am, and b) It creates a massive queue along the length of the street as 5000 people all try to enter at once. I can’t complain about the latter too much *cough* separate guestlist queue *cough*, but it does mean that you’re potentially staying for near enough 7 hours.
One upside to the early last entry time however is that it’s nice and busy from the start, with sizeable crowds gathered as first main room act Murlo tanks through ninety minutes of breezy easy going house music, occasionally straying over to the dirtier side of the street but never pushing the boat out too far and just generally getting people moving. The place is fit to burst towards the end of the set as he closes with his particularly grimy remix of AJ Tracey’s ‘Naila’ as the man himself jumps on the microphone. Billed separately but playing alongside each other, AJ Tracey and Yungen crank out a particularly competent grime set, getting the venue gassed with Dizzie Rascal’s seminal ‘I Luv U’ and maintaining momentum throughout via a combo of original material and more well-known riddims, cementing both MC’s status as acts to firmly keep an eye on.
Following this comes my personal highlight of the night: UKG/Grime/Bassline/Whateveryoufancy ‘Supergroup’ TQD, comprising established Producers/DJ’s Royal-T, DJ Q and Flava D. The first of two Warehouse Project slots this year as part of their ‘Only One’ tour, they absolutely tear their hour-long set a new one as they smash through an amalgamation of their own material and influences: from DJ Q’s 2006 bassline era Niche ‘kinda chavvy in a good way’ filth, Flava D’s more recent polished (but still equally repugnant) productions, to Royal-T’s amped up Grime Instrumentals. There’s a clear relationship between the group that really brings their slot to life, with a unique sense of friendly competition as they each take their turn to step up to the tables, and the set really shines when they play in tandem – treating the decks like drum machines and samplers. They should have received a slot longer than an hour, and the set could also maybe have benefitted from being a bit later than 11:30, but these are minor complaints really. Definitely one to see if they’re playing near you anytime soon, they’re truly a force to be reckoned with.
Following the dizzying highs of TQD comes the inimitable Lethal Bizzle, who fully makes use of his half hour slot powering through all the greatest Bizzle hits. Whilst maybe on the ‘cheesier’ side of the UK Grime scene, he performs with enthusiasm and energy, and really is a good MC in the sense of knowing how to work a crowd well. There’s a particularly embarrassing snapchat I sent around in which I find myself yelling ‘PUMP PUMP PUMP!’ to his faux-motivational ‘Rari Workout’. I haven’t been to the gym for around five years.
Energy levels skyrocketing at this point, Headliner and all around Drum & Bass heavyweight Andy C takes to the stage alongside MC Tonn Piper, and completely smashes the roof off the place. It’s clear that the majority of the crowd are solely here for this reason, and within the first five minutes of the set there isn’t a single person to be seen standing still. His set is the perfect balance of his own productions, remixes of popular material, and Drum & Bass staples from across the genre; it’s exciting, high octane, enthusiastic, and a reminder of the reason I fell in love with Drum & Bass as a teenager, when I used to go and player laser tag every Friday night. But the crowd was very pushy, so we went to the second room after about half an hour. Sorry.
Taking the ‘headline’ slot in the second room is Champion, who is actually incredibly technically impressive and plays a very competent set. A clear issue however, is that a lot of the material he plays comes courtesy of producers such as Flava D, DJ Q, Royal T… You can see where I’m going with this. Still a very good set, still as dirty as your student house kitchen bin. But maybe in requirement of more of a variation music-wise following TQD in the main room, since he ended up repeating a lot of the same stuff.
As I mentioned contentiously in my issue, there are sections of my night that remain slightly patchy, and the largest of these patches comes in the form of MJ Cole’s set. I remember it being a very good set. I remember staying at the front the whole time and really enjoying it. But I don’t actually really remember much of it. That’s not to say it wasn’t memorable. It’s just I don’t really have much to say about it due to inebriation. Stellar music journalism from me.
Up-and-coming DJ Talent Barely Legal follows, taking literally any genre she can get her hands on and throwing it into the soup, which shouldn’t work but really does. We’re talking Golden Age Hip Hop straight into Garage and back again, continually playing around with the tempo before settling into a comfortable liquid DnB section for the final half, which was particularly welcome around 4am when enthusiasm started to dwindle.
The conclusion to the evening came in the form of Delta Heavy in the main room, who were, disappointingly, one of the weaker acts of the night. Renowned for their forceful production in the dubstep era at the height of its popularity in the UK, and more recently heavy hitting Drum & Bass, on paper they should have by all means been the ideal act to close the night. Unfortunately, try as they might, they just never really manage to get their set off the ground. Whilst the Drum and Bass sections of the set are perfectly decent, they have an unfortunate disposition for throwing what can only be described as ‘Brostep’ into the fry every three songs or so, causing energy levels to frequently spike up and down, and it’s clear around halfway through the set that the crowd is just physically and emotionally spent. Whilst the set itself isn’t bad per se, a lack of audience connection really lets it down.
The Warehouse Project fully delivered, putting on a night that really showcased the variety the UK has to offer. A delightful array of dirty, dirty music.
Fully recommend. Very good. Would go again.
As the lights come on and the free cans of Relentless are handed out (just what I needed at 5am apparently), we head back up to Piccadilly station to catch our 6am train back to dear old Sheff. On the platform a voice echoes across the tannoy: “Could the gentleman on the bicycle please refrain from cycling the wrong way on the travellator.” If you asked me for a metaphorical representation of my night in Manchester (what do you mean you didn’t?), that’s exactly how I’d sum it up in a sentence. Billed as ‘an event celebrating the multiple strands of British bass music’, The Warehouse Project fully delivered, putting on a night that really showcased the variety the UK has to offer. A delightful array of dirty, dirty music.
Fully recommend. Very good. Would go again.