10x10: Day & Night 12hrs (10 Yrs of MIF & The Warehouse Project)
Saturday 18th July
It's hard to believe that Manchester's Warehouse Project has been around for a whole decade. Not because it can't continue to evolve, or stay at the frontline of the ever shifting world of dance music, becuase it does. More because of the fate of those who came before it. The hedonistic, grandiose scale of projects such as this often collapses in upon itself when word gets out and money starts to change hands. Just look at Manchester's last comparable entity, The Haçienda. The Warehouse Project has, through meticulous planning and presumably tough decision making, somehow bridged that gap between home-grown squat warehouse parties and corporate, arena-sized blow-outs. Here, at the beast's 10th anniversary, it’s the former that the organisers have channelled. Resurrected in the sprawling industrial tomb of Manchester's Mayfield Depot.
As I arrived, part-way through the afternoon on the second day of the celebrations, the atmosphere was already electric. The wonderfully eccentric Keiren Hebden, better known as Four Tet, had kicked things off the previous night with an exclusive airing of his new live show. However it was tonight, with a sprawling selection of DJs and a 12 hour run from 2pm till 2am that things looked to get real 'celebratory'.
Strolling toward the venue with the sinking summer sun cutting holes through plooms of smoke from both open steel doors, and the small groups of all-day-revelers catching a quick cigarette break, this event already felt like a time-bubble of 90's rave culture, a simpler time. Entering the space, I was taken away by the great scale of the building. Smooth, towering concrete ceilings, supported in part by cascading steel plinths and in part by the mesmerising and slowly progressing structures of Paranoid London. Though the space was not full, hard to achieve for a full 12 hours even if you are WHP, generous helpings of smoke began to creep in from the perimeters, working in tandem with the incredibly involving and evolving techno-singed beats that really made you feel as if this was an all inclusive journey.
As Paranoid London wound down and released their welcomed grip upon my brain, I could hear the ominous and booming call of Room Two beckoning from the depths. Personally, I have always had a slight bias towards Room Two at any WHP event and Mayfield Depot's offering of a Room Two definitely lives up to the expectations. Similar to Store Street's arched brick, bass silo of a space, this area shut out all light, even in the middle of a clear summers day. Replacing it with beautiful dancing lasers and patterns that split and twirl in perfect unison with the soaring sounds of Midland, rippling towards me. It was at this point that the room began to feel as if it were a wave simulator, though switching out water for sound. Audio-waves rippling forwards and backwards, gathering momentum, faster and larger until they collapse in crests, rapturous snares and feet-shaking basslines crashing around the space.
Back in the cavernous main hall, the creeping rays of light that had once been simmering through yellowing, moss-coated windows, had almost vanished. As Joy Orbison began filling the space with echoing, thudding beats, similar to a lone basketball bouncing in a stadium, the lighting setup began to come into its own and show the now growing crowd just what this night had to offer.
Monumental arpeggiated synths slice through the still drifting smoke, held aloft by angelic pads. Pin-point, smooth lasers scan the room, their blinking eyes piercing through delayed, reverb-drenched twangs, both suspenseful and spiraling. A clicking, high-presence drum roll cracks the surface tension with a sound not far off a creaking door or a pencil, bouncing off of a wooden desk. As an arpeggiated vocal sample cackles and rises over stick thin, marching percussion, this soundscape twists and turns upon itself a funk-laced line of keys erupts and makes it known that night has dawned. The space now suitably full to inspire arms to flail and feet to shuffle.
The main backbone of the night became these building beats and samples, a somewhat techno-trance rooted feel. It was incredibly fitting, in my eyes, the roots of this night being so similar to the 90's rave scene that these kinds of events were born from. I began to see the divides between vintage beats and structures and more modern unconventional percussion lines and samples, it truly felt like an amalgamation of the past 10 years of influence in the dance music scene. Throughout the night, the stage lighting flashed stubbornly with repeating digits. An endless line of 10s to mark the occasion, though coming across, at least to myself, as a string of binary code, pulsating as the speakers beside them threatened to break the matrix around us.
As these numbers flash amongst the fading beats of Carl Craig & Mike Banks, the pyramid-like structures which house the stage lights begin to make sense. There is one piece missing from the summit, I can't help but feel this is WHP telling the world, we may be the biggest we have ever been, but there's much more to come.
Review by Sean Toohey
Images courtesy of The Warehouse Project and Gary Brown