The Warehouse Project
Annie Mac Presents: Julio Bashmore, Stormzy, Redlight & More
Store Street, Manchester
Thursday 27th Nov
Nearing the end of its yearly output, the crown jewel of Manchester's clubbing calendar continues to pull all the punches, rolling out one of their most diverse line-ups to date. One side backed by the globetrotting selector extraordinaire Annie Mac, the other by the MOBO certified voice of the new youth Stormzy. Ibiza to South-London, via Store Street.
Slipping from the street, through dangling plastic tendrils, my ears are drawn to an acidic bubble worming its way beyond brick from the depths of room two. Will Tramp holds no regard for seasonal subtlety, merrily riding bouncing euro-pop synths in harmony with the vivid colors spiraling from the back-walls. Squelching basslines, bulbous and padfooted, converge beneath crisp percussive spines, building and subsiding until the waves break into jittering samba rhythms. It may as well be carnival season down here.
Its surely been a year-long carnival for Bristol's Julio Bashmore, dropping his long-anticipated debut LP mere months ago, to dazzling reviews. Bashmore has worked hard to prove himself, helping to ensure that UK house bubble that burst a few years back remains relevant. Rolling out heavy domes of metallic basslines seems to act as a beacon throughout store street's gloomy chambers, the room swells as feet mesh to the dull thud of 4/4. Opening to thunderous cheers, with a track from his aforementioned debut record, solidifies Bashmore's staying power. As a collective roar rattles amongst the brickwork, tubular synths and trailing reverberant samples create a thick, quilted cloth to be sliced by clasping hats and warm, crackling percussive snaps. Beautifully layered and intricate, Bashmore's set acts to tune the crowd's synapses to the frequency of what lies beyond.
The anticipation of Stormzy's arrival became a physically tangible fog, a sense of euphoria dancing on your tongue, a vivid kaleidoscope of light, inching across cracked brick. The hype amidst this artist has been swarming for over a year now, swelling with every monumental achievement the man has deservedly received. The 22 year-old is already the proud owner of 3 MOBO's, backed by Wiley and most importantly, got away with rocking a slot on Jools Holland in his sweatpants. As if to act as a defining image of his position as the voice of the new youth, literally every phone in the building stood high above our heads, hundreds of thumbnail images destined to dazzle friends in house parties and smoking areas. Though his stage time was cut short, a lasting impression was certainly left pressed into Store St's walls. Etched into stone, the imprint of hundreds of voices getting lary to the verses of 'Shut Up' and 'WickedSkengMan 4'. Grime always brings out the beast in an audience, though never before have I seen so much energy channel itself from performer to crowd, like watching a hundred tethered pit-bulls leaping to bite the post-man, primal and perfect.
Redlight had quite a task to tame the animals left in Stormzy's wake, though through a whirlwind assault of fluttering pads and bubbling volcanic bass the DJ seemed to guide the masses to a rhythmic sway. Orchestrated jabs of splintered percussion seemed to poke at your limbs as encompassing, organic synth-lines warped around the ceiling. Eventually this swarming sonic atmosphere reached its pinnacle atop those oh-so-familiar deep-house throbs as feet found purchase within tight percussive loops. Euphoria in full swing, a glimpse of curled locks sends the room into convulsions.
The unmistakable, joyous chords of Annie Mac's voice ring out amongst the cavernous arches, cat-calling Manchester like an old friend, receiving a greeting like the second coming. Its Mac's infectious charisma and enticing energy that really propels her from selector to performer, from simply showcasing musical influence, to grasping your hand and guiding you through the neon-tinged neurons that spark her artistic mind into fluttering technicolor. A set of glorious peaks that lift your heart to that nether zone of late-night excitement, the one where magic seems real. The mindset that can only be reached in the dead of night with the perfect array of euphoric basslines and bone-rattling cheers. Mac's set builds and morphs itself to a summit, streamlining its progressions before tearing a hole in the thick atmosphere to reveal a last ten minutes of intense looped glory. Her voice, victorious, echoing somewhere within a thick, smoke-filled void amongst viscous, intense laserbeams, scattered and magnificent.
Words by Sean Toohey
Photos courtesy of Matt Eachus