So. The Warehouse Project. In a time where you can’t go to the shops without being assaulted by so-called EDM, and the charts are awash with the sort of anaemic pop-house seemingly designed to make the customers in Jack Wills think they are hip, what will become of the biggest dance music event in the UK? Presumably it will be invaded by sub-TOWIE roided-out bros, ready to mandy out and pop a rave. Well, I’m assuming this is what it was like on, for instance, the night Disclosure curated the acts. This night, though, under the expert management of Four Tet and Caribou (A.K.A. Daphni), was as the Warehouse Project should be; full of people there for the music, enjoying the music, and coming together under the music.
The first act I saw after making my way in through the authentically lashing Manchester rain was Evian Christ, in Room 1. Christ is a 24 year old who has had a fairly meteoric rise from having his first ever release in 2012 (while still training to be a primary school teacher) to producing a track on Kanye West’s latest album this year. The kind of tracks he was playing could probably best be described as space age neon hip-hop, and it was a great way to bring up the energy for the night ahead.
Straight after Christ was Thom Yorke. Yorke has always had an interest in left-field electronic music, as evidenced on later Radiohead albums, and his set on the Boiler Room showed that he is a competent DJ. However, on this occasion he didn’t pull off one mix; he came on, played a few tracks with minimal fades in between, before inviting someone else on stage to take over the laptop and picked up a microphone. He then began to wail over various pieces of electronica. I’m sure there were lots of hardcore Radiohead fans in the crowd who were absolutely loving it, but apart from that demographic it fell a bit flat; people came to dance, and he just didn’t offer enough chance to do that.
So I left and headed over to Room 2, where Joy Orbison was delivering his customary blend of house and garage to devastating effect. Joy is one of the most consistent DJs out there, combining flawless mixing with a deep but crowd-pleasing selection, and it’s always a pleasure to see him at work. Next up in Room 2 was Ben UFO B2B Pearson Sound, but I quickly shot over to Room 1 where MF Doom was due to take the stage. After waiting half an hour, albeit with Madlib providing some great tunes, there was an announcement that Doom wasn’t coming, met with boos from the crowd. Back to Room 2 then, where two thirds of the Hessle Audio crew were doing exactly what they do every Thursday on Rinse FM; serving up tracks which you would never have found yourself, but which suddenly feel absolutely essential.
Then it was over to Room 3 to see the wunderkind Happa, a 16 year old who already has 4 releases to his name. He offered up pounding house-techno hybrids, with lots of energy but no standout tracks. I went back to Room 2 to see Kyle Hall deliver an absolute masterclass in what can be achieved with just the aid of a drum machine. The final act in Room 3 was Wookie, who showed why UK garage is probably the best party music of all time. While I was watching Wookie, I noticed there was a scruffy, long-haired middle aged man wiling out next to me; none other than Thom Yorke himself. Unfortunately, a girl in the crowd also noticed and she took a flash photo right in his face; Yorke told her off and walked away. Way to play it cool, random girl.
Closing the night in the cavernous Room 1 were our erstwhile hosts, Four Tet and Caribou, going back to back. They had each had solo sets earlier in the night to show off their selection, so they finished the night with a set of crowd-pleasers; Four Tet produced an actual hands-in-air-moment when he reached for Joy O’s ‘Ellipsis’, with people even singing along to the track’s vocal sample. It was a great way to round off the night, bringing home the (slightly cheesy) point that it can be truly uplifting when people get together to celebrate a shared love of music.
Photo credits: harderfasterblogger.com