Curated by Bestival, with Chic ft. Nile Rodgers, 2ManyDJs and Rob Da Bank – Warehouse Project, Manchester
Now in its seventh year- and onto its third venue – the Warehouse Project takes the kind of international headline act that can sell out an event, stuffs three or four of them into each night, then adds a cavernous Manchester warehouse space, some amazing production values and a commitment to providing the best overall experience. It’s probably little wonder than the four month season of events sells out almost entirely within hours of going on sale.
The Warehouse Project has been beset this season by some high profile tragedies, and the increased scrutiny on drug searches and making sure nothing gets in that shouldn’t means a 30-40 minute queue greeting ravers on arrival – and that was getting there early. Nonetheless, when you got to the first of the queues and realised part of the reason was some of the friendliest security staff around advising every clubber about rising mobile phone theft within the venue, and how to keep their possessions safe, you started to get the measure that this is a club night that is genuinely interested in the safety and good experience of those attending.
For the 2013 season the Warehouse Project has implemented a new one-way system, presumably designed to ease crowding in some of the entrances and exits to popular rooms. While that meant dropping something off at the cloakroom could entail a stop off in every room on the way, provided people didn’t attempt the impossible feat of moving 20-strong groups around the club, the walking around was in one way no bad thing, prompting people to seek out new areas and try and resist the pull of the main room.
When we arrived local Manchester DJs Ed Norris and Sam Graham were going back to back in room three with some solid bass-heavy beats, with Toddla T kicking off shortly after to an absolutely rammed second room. The real jewel of this night’s line-up though was Chic ft. Nile Rogers, returning to the Warehouse Project for the second time after a 2011 Store Street performance that saw them joined onstage by former Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr. Celebrating their last European performance of 2013, and riding high on a renewed love of disco that’s helped them set the festival circuit alight once again this year, eagle-eyed clubbers who spotted the huge nets of balloons fixed to the ceiling in the main room were given a hint as to the spectacle in-store.
And it wasn’t just the crowd who were excited- as Hot Chip wrapped up their set Nile Rodgers was spotted on the edge of the stage, eagerly taking pictures of the crowd taking pictures of him. For his part, nobody owns a stage like Rodgers, and he wasn’t joking when he boasted ‘you’re going to hear some amazing songs, done by some amazing artists…and we did them all first’. The whole set was a reminder of just how many outstanding tracks Chic has been behind, both for themselves and others, with ‘Upside Down’ and ‘He’s the Greatest Dancer’ getting some of the biggest cheers from a crowd that was so busy it felt at points like it was pulsating.
The only downside of the room scheduling and the line-up was that nearly everybody in the club appeared to be in the main room at any given time. TEED was holding court in room two playing some darker, squelchier basslines but elsewhere the club felt deserted in places as we navigated around the one way system again. Back in the main room though it was time for those balloons to be released and as the stage flooded with 40 or so clubbers – either competition winners or VIPs, but most definitely delighted at dancing alongside the band as the main room exploded for Chic one more time.
2 ManyDjs did a valiant job of maintaining the tempo as they came onstage, kicking off their set with some upbeat dance-punk rhythms, although it’s perhaps a sign of WHP’s current location a little further out of town that the main room started to clear out well before the end of the night.
The Warehouse Project is the kind of night that clubbers from across the UK make a weekend of, and while the crowds and the queues felt full on at times, the whole experience of a night that lets you see international headliners alongside up and coming talent, with a strong Mancunian flavour to boot, meant there were few people who came away disappointed. For all its size, scale and spectacle, the organizers still manage to convey just how much they care about a good clubbing experience.