Store Street, Manchester
The Warehouse Project has always endeavored to find balance in its reputation, between creating a space in the North for people to listen to new and exotic dance music, and hosting some of the UK’s strongest parties.
Earlier this year, I found myself, once again poring over another list of sold out events. After weighing up the heavyweight contenders, there was addition to the Warehouse Project bill that really caught my eye: Belfast’s house heavyweights Bicep. Their Feel My Bicep night offered a lineup that boasted a serious amount of depth. Avant-garde in many respects, their choices seemed to roll with the conventions that have become tied to the space, whilst still bringing something new to the table.
While the big-room-worthy Bicep acted as hosts for the proceedings, the Store Street crowd were also treated to a live show from Brassica, vinyl-packing heat from Motor City Drum Ensemble and a headline slot from Detroit techno heavyweight, Jeff Mills. There really was something for everyone here, an experimental lineup that showed promise to deliver the innovation and festivities that The Warehouse Project pride themselves on, and so I was interested to see this procedure carried out in harmony.
Following a six PM start Dystopian label boss Rødhåd, kicks things off with another well-oiled, industrially concentrated set. Over in room two, Brassica is in calm control of a body of musical devices that resemble some type of time machine, the sound blends house, new wave, synth music and Italo, with unpredictable rolling basslines and harsh steely stabs that resonate throughout the building. It’s not packed but perfectly comfortable, and the crowd show humble respect to the live performance which continues to explore the frontiers of genre.
Thus far we’d been treated to an unrelenting wealth of dance music’s darker underbelly and light relief is highly anticipated in the form of Motor City Drum Ensemble amongst those amassing in room two, and following the mellower gripped attentions that had resided for Brassica, things get rowdy to say the least. As the buzz builds, spilt drinks and yappy comments pour across the dancefloor. Yet a once unruly crowd unites as MCDE takes stage, the crate digger is armed with a carefully selected crate of records. The set is thoroughly elating, drawing from soul, disco, acid and old-school house, and it succeeds in complementing the more relentless techno we’ve seen elsewhere on the lineup.
Back in room one, Bicep are closing their set with similarly cheery effects on the crowd, dropping their summer-concluding remix of Manchester group, 808 state’s In Yer Face before Jeff Mills takes over. Launching into a set that strips techno down to its barebones Jeff Mills builds the vibe back up to showcase his signature sound, one that has become synonymous with his home city of Detroit. Ever innovative, striving to bring techno into a variety of different spaces, he’s back in the home setting and his handcrafted set has clearly been polished and then repolished to suit his unique form of mixing, and push the boundaries of techno and his audiences near to breaking point.