Having not been to the recent incarnation of WHP, to say the expectation was high surrounding the WHP closing party is an understatement to say the least. On arrival at Victoria Warehouse we were inducted in to the fabled one way system which would later prove to be very useful in navigating such a massive venue. I and countless other people made straight for room one where Innervisions top artists Dixon and Ame were already laying the foundations of the room's more techno orientated music policy. Providing their trademark melodic atmospheric slabs of techno, Dixon and Ame went back to back for the duration of their set. Even with them playing an early set it was clear that they proved to be a massive pull with the room quickly filling. Even at this early stage of the evening the sheer scale of the main room was a sight to behold. Dancing right under the legendary WHP disco ball come rubix cube, it was clear that production was paramount and no expense was spared in making this a truly unique experience.
With so much on offer during the course of the night I made a point of catching as many acts as possible, so with this in mind I vacated the main room in favour of the more intimate and infinitely warmer climate of Room 3, where Prins Thomas was already deep in to his tried and tested disco fuelled groove. Situated between the cavernous main room and elongated Room 2, it was clear that this room would provide plenty of "moments" through out the night as the booming sound system and close proximity to the performer would ensure the DJ and crowd connection would be high.
Following a short acid interlude from the Nordic Disco pusher it was time take check out the rest of the venue. Much has been said about the WHP one way system that is in use at Victoria Warehouse, but I found that without it the party would fall in to chaos and more importantly I might not have discovered all the great music and DJs that were on offer that night. While on my way to the huge smoking area, bleeding through from Room 2 was the deep funk of Baikal's remix of Hunter_Game's The Island.
Heading back towards Room 1 to catch the rest of Dixon and Ame the one way system paid dividends as there was clearly a party kicking off in Room 3 with Krystal Klear the protagonist. With the sounds of Joy Orbisons and Boddika's acid banger Swims being melded to Stardust's anthemic Music Sounds Better With You, hooking me right into the already heaving crowd. With a truly feel good vibe spreading across the room, this was a bit of a surprise addition to my itinerary for the night. With KK keeping the classics coming, Bookashade and M.A.N.D.Y's break through hit Body Language barely had time to settle in to its crisp hypnotic groove before the track was a given a swift rewind before dropping for a second time. Krystal Klear kept the party vibe going strong with Chic's timeless Everybody Dance and with it had the whole crowd doing just that right to the very last beat of his set.
With so many great acts on offer it was hard to decide which direction to go, for me however there was only one way to go and that was straight to Room 2 which would see 4 of my favourite DJs playing over two back-to-back sets. With the unmistakable bassline and looped vocals of Double 99 - RIP Groove ringing out it was a clear sign that things were kicking off big time in Room 2. With this in mind I made sure I got back to Room 2 as soon as I possibly could and entering Room 2 from the very back I realised that although the room wasn't as big as Room1 it was pretty long. Even the fact that the room was as long as it was this never detracted from the quality of the sound, with some events all the sound is thrust forward from the front, not at WHP. There were several massive Function One stacks half way down the room on both sides so the whole of the room was covered so there was no missing out on any of Midland and Paul Woolford's bass heavy set.
Not content with hanging back and taking in the surroundings I made my way towards the front of the sweaty throng which had gathered for one of the pulls of the night and it totally paid off as I found myself in the sweet spot of the dance floor, right in the middle of the main part of the crowd with a perfect view of the trippy visuals It was hard to tell who was playing what tracks as the randomly blinking blue strobes were an assault on the eyes but this coupled with the booming sound system only added to the fever pitch atmosphere that was generated when Midland dropped his Aus Music bomb Trace, deftly weaving it between Woolys previous boisterious percussive track.
With an eye firmly on the future of house and techno, Midland and Paul Woolford are at the fore front of the UK's music scene, but on a special night like this it was great to hear such in form DJs showing their heritage too and none come closer to the roots of their sound than with drops like Inner City - Pennies From Heaven and Wildchild - Renegade Master. These tracks fit perfectly with their set flitting easily between bass heavy techno and Detroit House circa Shed.
Next up was another must see for me and that was Joy Orbison b2b Ben UFO. Moving from the heavy pace set by Midland and Wooly, Ben stepped up and immediately took control dropping the tempo slightly in order to build his own groove. With this drop in tempo this allowed me to find a welcome space right at the front as this was one of the reasons for me making the trip to Manchester and I wasn't disappointed, more over I found myself right in the blast zone of a massive air conditioning unit. So as well as being pride of place in front of 2 of the hottest artist in the UK I also had the luxury of freshly chilled air in my face, my night was going well. Fully expecting Joy Orbison to step up and deliver a masterclass in forward thinking garage and house, instead Joy took his time and etched out an intelligent array of exclusive cuts showcasing his ear for original yet captivating sounds he is well known for. Highlight of this being an elongated building monster of a track which was most unmistakably Joy.
Next up for the night was Carl Craig handing over to Maceo Plex. With CCs set culminating in a flurry of multi coloured lazers and risings synth lines, Maceo stepped up to deliver a peak time slot like only he knows how.
Favouring his more techno leaning alias Maetrik for slots of this nature Eric launches headlong in to a barrage of clinically pristine techno. His presence behind the decks is a joy to watch as he is visibly loving every moment of his set. It is this passion and drive, obviously helped by his skills, that has propelled Eric to number 6 in recent RA DJ poll.
Maceo's take on driving techno still managed to retain the swing and swagger of his much housier Maceo Plex sets. Complete with Maetrik's trademark glitches and bleeps, Eric really is the master of the build as he strings together delays which rise with ease to leave the crowd begging for the drop. When the pitched down vocals of perhaps one of Eric's undiscovered alias's announces that he is the voice of cocaine, accompanied by a sweet piano loop this completely changed the mood to an almost tangible level.
Coming to the end of what had been an absolutely amazing night of top music it was time to make my way home. As I was making my way towards the exit Close - Beam Me Up snaked through from Room 2. A quick check of the running order revealed George Fitzgerald's set was reaching its climax. With one last dance on the cards I entered the room just as Audion - Mouth to Mouth fizzing synths filled the room and it was clear going home was not on the agenda for this crowd. As the funk fuelled tones and break beat of Jaydee - Plastic Dreams taking Room 2 to a different level it was time to call it a day.
Having spent the last 7 and a half hours immersed in one of the finest clubbing experiences in the UK, I was spent. This marked their final party at Victoria Warehouse and although there is a lot of uncertainity and rumours regarding their events for their 2014/15 run of parties, there is no doubt that what ever their plans are, they will definitely blow you away.
Review by Stu Todd
Images courtesy of Sebastian Matthes