Old Granada Studios, Manchester
Just offset from Manchester’s regenerated Spinningfields district – the financial hub of the city – and a few doors down from the Manchester Opera House, the Old Granada Studios complex is an incredibly impressive space.
Built-to-purpose as a television and broadcasting facility, the vast warehouse spaces of the studios are ideal for high-end production and spectacular scale. They were a perfect fit for Friday night’s Stone Island’s pop-up event, part of their NTS-broadcasted Stone Island Presents series.
Tall billboard-sized drapes with silhouetted Stone Island models hung at either side of the stage, while a huge screen projecting monochrome visuals was suspended behind the decks. The first third of the party was soundtracked by Joy Orbison who expertly delivered a diverse and atmospheric set sewing skeletal techno in with glittery, soulful house while retaining a constant feeling of grit. Toward the final stretch of his set, he unleashed the minimal Soca cut Brave from St Vincent & The Grenadines artist Dynamite – a curveball airing which filled the towering space with ease.
As Joy O began to wrap up, British techno vet and Detroit disciple Kirk Degiorgio unloaded an arsenal of hardware for a more analogue-led, eyes-down affair. Befitting of the smoke-filled spotlights and black-heavy aesthetic of the scenery, the sheer velocity of Degiorgio’s set proved that this wasn’t designed to be a party for posers. Programmed in the middle of the line-up and playing to a packed-out room – his tough and sometimes harsh sounds reverberated through the studios.
As closing selectors go, few are as qualified or well-suited as Omar-S. With the space most definitely at capacity, the figurehead of Detroit’s new gen brought a seamlessly mixed assortment of bright, upbeat house and formative Detroit sounds all delivered with his signature raw, in-the-moment energy. One glistening high came when we played E Smoove’s Workout Mix of Donell Rush’s If Only You Knew – a tight, jacking garage house track which provided a euphoric finale.
While the production value of this event was notably high (even the plastic cups were emblazoned with the Stone Island compass), the attention to detail didn’t stop anyone letting loose, and the uniqueness of the space with the quality of the line-up made standing against the wall impossible.