The Warehouse Project Launch Party
Friday 23rd September
Store Street, Manchester
Words by Kamila Rymajdo
Due to the controversial dropping of M.I.A. from Afropunk festival, The Warehouse Project’s first night of 2016 promised to be an even rarer occasion than first expected. It’s not only been two years since the headliner performed live anywhere, but six seasons since she graced the stage of WHP. Store Street is arguably The Warehouse Project’s best location and with continual improvements, this year it even smelled good. Absent was the dense crowding experienced at Victoria Warehouse, and thanks to a varied lineup of established and new talent, this opening weekend wasn’t merely a Freshers’ Week exercise as it could have been accused of being in previous years. The bookings also paid homage to local heroes such as Madam X and Will Tramp, with Goldlink bringing out another well-known Manc in the shape of Bipolar Sunshine for an electric performance of their collaboration ‘Future’. But the rapper’s rendition of Nelly’s infamous ‘Hot In Herre’ set the tone for a night where cheese got the biggest cheers.
Over in room 3 the NTS takeover was in full swing by the time Finn came on the decks while in room 2 Jungle’s DJ set was arguably the most popular at this stage. Predictably, the crowd’s even spread came to swift finish as M.I.A.’s headline slot drew nearer. By the time she came on, essentially everyone was packed into room 1, and the back seemed like a better option for optimum enjoyment without the fear of taking an elbow to the face. Unfortunately, despite M.I.A.’s carefully curated set list, which she told followers was chosen with the club’s particular sonics in mind, the sound here left a lot to be desired, and the diminished audibility of tracks like ‘Bring The Noize’ made the experience a little ironic. Nevertheless, M.I.A., flanked by dancers and wearing a bright red veil over her camouflage two-piece was visually mesmerising at least. ‘Bird Song’ from new album AIM was my favourite of her performance and she finished on ‘Bad Girls’, another track I love, rather than the expected ‘Paper Planes’.
(Lauch Party headliner M.I.A mader her first appearance at WHP in 6 years.)
The night’s unlikely highlight came in the shape of legendary reggae selector and soundclash champion David Rodigan. The young punters were visibly enthralled as he played crowd-pleasers like DJ Zinc’s ‘Wile Out’ featuring Ms Dynamite and the Fugees’ ‘Ready or Not’. It seemed like a perfect slot time for a typical Rodigan set and I even clocked 1Xtra’s Sian Anderson watching not far from the front of the stage. Back in room 3 Endgame’s set was starting to look promising, though most people were leaving by this point and the atmosphere was beginning to change to the inevitable it’s-probably-time-to-go-home-now. However, Will Tramp managed to hold down his usual fort over in room 2, with a full room of punters asking him for more as the lights went up at 5AM.
It feels like this year The Warehouse Project is going to do what it does best; bringing a wide variety of world class DJs to Manchester, but ironing out its past problems, meaning it could be the super club’s best year yet.
Words by Kamila Rymajdo
Photos courtesy of Jody Hartley & Gemma Parker