After five successful years in the abandoned air raid shelter below Manchester Piccadilly Station, moving the Warehouse Project to the unfamiliar territory of multi-million pound Victoria Warehouse was a bold move. Dauntingly huge, the warehouse stands just outside central Manchester. But the transition didn’t dampen determination as hundreds of party-goers flocked from all over northern England for the WHP launch and Rinse FM’s 18th birthday.
The organisers have put a great deal of thought into the logistics. The layout of the venue itself is slick, with three rooms fully equipped with bass-defying sound systems. A complicated one-way system runs through the entire warehouse in attempt to keep traffic in a one-direction stream. In reality, this can be an inconvenience. At times you’re forced to trek through the entirety of the warehouse and queue for 10 minutes just for a fag.
Of course, it was the music that we were there for, and on that front WHP did provide. A solid line-up for an opening night (minus the late cancellation of Lianne La Havas) drew a full crowd. However, with the music kicking off at the deceptively early hour of 8pm, it took a while for an atmosphere to build.
At 10pm, Alunageorge played to a measly hundred-odd people spread sparsely across the main room. With her voice was drowned by her band, you felt sorry for her as tried to strut like a superstar in front of a disinterested crowd. As soon as Plastician’s set began, the room packed out as the Diplo fans made a beeline for prime moshing position.
With the inclusion of P Money and Boy Better Know, the target audience should have been obvious. Expectations of the usual London flat-peaked crowd were quickly substituted with wannabe-Geordie-Shore clubbers, chanting and stomping to Diplo’s gimmicky sounds and tribal beats.
Adjusting their sets to suit the vibe of the audience, the artists seemed aware of this too. With a set so dissimilar to his two-hour floor-filler at Beacons festival, DJ Oneman had obviously catered his tracks to match the evening’s Brostep-centred sound. Although I can’t say it was entirely tasteful, Oneman never disappoints dropping crowd-working tracks from Destiny’s Child to Baauer.
The highlight of the evening came from Hessle Audio’s Ben UFO and Pearson Sound, playing the smaller stage in Room Two in the early hours. The vibe in the room felt more about the music than the laser-induced, frantic, shoulder-to-shoulder jamming endured in the main room.
Despite the criticisms, I think I would safely call the night a success. With its phenomenal audio-visual displays and line-ups to rival those of the summer festivals, WHP claims that “for twelve weeks, the city is ours”. It just gets better from here on out.By Roseanna Brear