Hidden x Lo Fi - Levon Vincent & Craig Richards
Saturday 14th November
The club scene in Manchester has, for several years, been dominated by a small collection of club nights and venues. The famous Warehouse Project often fills the calendar with big names in House, Techno, Grime and everything in between. Often these WHP dates will be the only chance to see these particular DJ’s play the city that year. It is with great pleasure then to see a new venue finding the balance between booking big name artists, while still taking risks and putting on nights which seem to have an edge to them. Welcome Hidden, the multi-story warehouse space which straddles the edges of both Manchester and Salford. Those who planned their night accordingly could walk from Piccadilly station to this slightly out the way venue, but for those who’s timing isn’t as good, a taxi will be necessary.
The first noticeable thing about Hidden is its slightly maze like layout and it’s raw aesthetics with the concrete stairwells and lift spaces left pretty much untouched from their original state, apart from some lighting and some colourful graffiti. I started the night in the top floor club space, or the correctly named ‘Blue Room’ with Fabric resident Craig Richards. Having to please crowds of thousands every week at one of London’s top clubs, it’s unsurprising that Richards has a lot of records and dips in and out of House, Techno and Tech-house throughout his sets. The fact that Hidden gave Richard a 3 hour slot to play with allowed him to fully utilise his musical knowledge. The earlier part of his set fell much more towards the bouncy Tech-House tracks you might expect to hear from Jamie Jones or Lee Foss, slightly less up my street than the type of Techno that Levon Vincent would shell down on the basement later that evening. However, as the set progressed Richards picked up the pace with tracks like Francois X’s Another Riot and darkened the mood with Nitam’s track Retold. Just when you thought you could see the direction of Richards set into moodier Techno based track-list he would through in a Disco track by Antonelli Electr and some Acid tracks just for good measure. The last 30 minutes certainly set up for Levon Vincent’s in the basement with tracks like Mark Broom’s remix of Gary Martin’s This Is It and a really surprising track starting with heavy piano which I’ve found out to be Supernova’s Suite 58 (Tiger Stripes Remix) which was easily a stand out moment from his set.
As it neared 2.00am it was time to head down the concrete stairwells until the basement section of the club which was filling out in anticipation for the Novel Sound label boss Levon Vincent. The Basement part of Hidden is a slightly smaller room than the top floor’s Blue Room but a perfect venue for the type of sweaty Techno fun that was to come. The 2 hour slot given to Vincent was a slowly building set filled with absolute House and Techno classics like Steve Poindexter’s Computer Madness and new underground Techno releases like from DJ QU and Africans With Mainframes. Levon Vincent has been involved in a fair bit of online based controversy recently with comments surrounding the originality of new Techno releases, his set, regardless of these comments showed without a shadow of doubt that he is one of the best selectors in the game. Fusing Techno, Acid and House from the mid 1990’s right up to brand new unreleased tracks from his own label Novel Sound. Levon treated the Manchester crowd to one of those absolute ‘club moments’ when he dropped Green Velvet’s 1999 track Electrocution to what can only be described as a club version of a standing ovation. The whole crowd going absolutely wild and Levon himself with a massive smile on his face. It is always a pleasure to see a DJ clearly enjoy playing and reacting to the crowd’s appreciation.
The atmosphere across the night was friendly and a feeling of excitement as Manchester has gained another venue which will hopefully be the gift that keeps on giving. It seems like every week we are hearing of another London venue being under threat of closure due to development or noise complaints. It’s a testament to Manchester as a true musical city to have multiple venues open up in last few months when many are struggling to survive elsewhere. I look forward to many more fantastic nights at Hidden in the future. My only advice is to think about your travel plans before it gets too late!
Words by Stan Platford
Photos courtesy of Madeline Penfold