Manchester’s increasingly notorious season of music has a reputation for showcasing some of the biggest names in electronic music and attracting an eclectic mix of crowds, no more so than at the Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs’ Halloween special. Still it was with mild trepidation that we ventured westward out of the city in a cab towards these hallowed and mysterious halls, far away from the safety of the project’s previous venue under the arches of Piccadilly station.
Once inside we headed straight to the Boiler Room to catch Huxley, a last minute addition to the line-up where he played a 45-minute set before his main slot in room 3 later on. After being signed to 2020 Vision earlier this year, he has been honing his sound. Playing ‘Failing Upwards’, he was clearly enjoying himself after the culmination of a successful year. When we left the isolation of the room 45 minutes later, the Warehouse had filled up with zombies; dressed to varying degrees, all in the name of Halloween.
Almost three years in the making, John Talabot has had an interesting few months since his debut album fIN was released in February. Somewhere between Deep House and ambient Electronica, it would be fair to question how Talabot’s sound would translate within the WHP’s setting. These worries were unfounded as straight away he proved that he could not only recreate the complexity of his record live but also incorporate the industrial surrounding to the point where his music seemed to be emanating from the building itself. By the end of his set the room was completely packed and the mood set for curator of the night, Totally Enormous Distinct Dinosaurs, to take to the stage.
In interview Orlando Higginbottom a.k.a. TEED, said he wished the music industry could wake up tomorrow with all pre-existing notions of music wiped out so that new music could be made without the constrictions and limitations of genre and style. There was clear evidence of this methodology in his set. Sneaking on stage in his typical dinosaur getup, he illuminated the room with an energetic rendition of ‘Garden’ to which the crowd responded in an equally energetic fashion. Following the initial forward swell of bodies, the crowd sunk back as they began to settle into the haunting vocals of ‘Panpipes’ accompanied by soft synth bass lines that seemed to bounce around the room, never quite formulating. The crowd surged up once again as ‘Household Goods’ lifted the pace and Higginbottom showed his mastery of song craft. Whilst the costume, lighting, dancers and confetti all play a crucial part in TEED’s live performance, it was the atmosphere he created within the crowd that made the night truly memorable. He left us with ‘You Need Me On My Own’ before leaving the stage for Derrick Carter’s set of original house.
The line-up had a strong sense of Higginbottom’s approach to how dance music should be made and the artist’s chosen seemed to reflect this. As we watched Raf Rundell of the 2 Bears take to the stage for the night’s close, the soft vocals of ‘Be Strong’ transformed the room once again as the previously oppressive concrete walls dissolved under the revolving lights. The dynamic sound and playful lyrical direction showed that The 2 Bears are trying to break away from prescriptive production values and bring back a humor and innocence that can often be lost in dance music.
The night was a celebration of young artists working to create an original soundscape. If these were some of the best musicians of 2012, then their offerings at next year’s WHP will be something to look forward to.