This June the Warehouse Project released its highly anticipated 2013 line up and the majority of events were sold out within hours. A colossal budget allows Victoria Warehouse to host weekly lashings of highly coveted DJs from the world of techno, house, breaks, electronica and beyond. Until last Friday I’d never been to a WHP, let alone Manchester, but had always followed their line up announcements zealously, with the hope that one day I would go and see what all the fuss was about. However, recent coverage of the events has focused on the negatives, with rumours of bribing artists for their exclusivity and unflattering accounts of sweaty, packed rooms and hours of queuing dominating reviews. So I caught the train to Manchester with a little trepidation: it was imperative that the Annie Mac Presents line up delivered.
As the warehouse rapidly filled up we weaved our way to the barriers of the main room to watch a fiery Lulu James (albeit we had no idea who it was) whose infectious electronic soul and interaction with the crowd charmed the loiterers. The other standout for me was the equally performance driven Major Lazer. The blend of their club regulars such as ‘Original Don’ with unique dub-infused versions of ‘Heads Will Roll’ and ‘Drop It Like It’s Hot’ charged the audience in a way I’d never experienced.
I would have liked Annie Mac to experiment away from what, to a certain extent, felt like a recycled setlist. Not to say the mixing wasn’t seamless and song selection impeccable (which it was), just that there’s a special quality to an exclusive set.
The disappointing late announcement that Duke Dumont would not be performing due to illness was followed by a lacklustre Shadow Child, somewhat deflated and inert for a headliner. Moving from the spectacular performance based shows of Lulu James and Major Lazer (Diplo zorbing over the crowd is a difficult stunt to follow) to the more static Annie Mac and Shadow Child (despite Annie spraying champagne over the crowd) was anti-climatic for the evidently worn out crowd.
Whilst for me the acts peaked too soon, the lighting, motion graphics and acoustics were tuned to perfection. As was the organisation: once in Victoria Warehouse we didn’t queue once, nor did I identify with the online warnings of being “herded like cattle”. The atmosphere was so hypnotic that unfortunately we never tore ourselves away from the main room to see Cyril Hahn or Daniel Avery. In retrospect, I’m not really sure I care, the magnetism of WHP resident Will Tramp’s eclectic taste was difficult to resist and inadvertently made Room 1 our base.
Taking a break from annual season long procedures in 2014 for the first time in eight years, the remaining tickets for this year’s Warehouse Project could well be last opportunity to visit this Mecca of the UK club scene for a while. It’s disheartening to think it might be another two years before I make the pilgrimage to Manchester again.By Nancy Saul