Love it, hate it, or feel completely indifferent. Whatever your thoughts, it’s impossible to deny things get pretty busy in our city between 30th December and 2nd January each year.
The doorway to 2023 is no different, and after a fraught year in which politics, economics, security and sanity have all been tumultuous — not quite the tonic after 15 months in forced isolation — we could all do with letting off some steam at the end of this month.
Against that uneasy backdrop, though, there have been some things worth celebrating. Manchester’s music and nightlife has continued to thrive against difficult odds, not least the cost-of-living and energy nightmares biting hard on venues, artists and punters alike. Our hometown remains a hotbed of exceptional talent, and the future, in terms of sonic creativity, looks bright. Here are six stand out names that define what we’re talking about, and where to find them delivering the goods on New Year’s weekend.
Blasha & Allatt
Where: Derby Brewery Arms (Sunday 1st January 2023; 4PM Start)
Co-founders of Meat Free alongside aalice and Lucy Ironmonger, arguably Manchester’s most renowned techno party, in 2022 Blasha & Allatt continued on the same skyward trajectory that began long before the era of face masks, and their international touring schedule proves it. On home ground their sessions are famed for high energy soundtrack and atmosphere, so when they return to the site of last year’s now-legendary 1st January throw down, it should be one for the books.
Where: Partisan @ Islington Mill (Saturday 31st December 2022; 9PM Start)
Club CITS and NTS resident Hesska has been peddling noises from the far reaches of rave for around a decade now, first gaining recognition through the Gesamtkunstwerk parties she ran with friends. No stranger to the politically-driven Partisan, the co-operative venue that started life in Cheetham Hill and now lives at Islington Mill, genre-bending sets packed with left-leaning, floor-friendly curveballs, sewn together through seamless blends, will be par for the course.
Where: Eastern Bloc (Saturday 31st December 2022; 8PM Start)
It’s difficult to know where we start with Bane, a mainstay of the region’s dance underground for longer than Finest has been in existence. One of the figureheads behind the counter at Eastern Bloc Records, his roots lie in drum & bass, jungle and their offshoots, but knowledge and sets take in all manner of time signatures, drum patterns, and styles, delivered with the sensibilities of someone who has played more parties than most of us have had hot dinners.
Where: The White Hotel (Saturday 31st December 2022; 11PM Start)
Visceral and uncompromising, personal, poetic and potent lyricism best describes Iceboy Violet, whose name belongs on a growing list of heads responsible for the North West’s dark, powerful, poignant and fresh hybrid of spoken word, grime, ambient, rap, and electronica, wrapped in performance art (hence appearances at landmarks like the Institute of Contemporary Arts). For New Year they’re tag-teamed with Rainy Miller, whose work includes sound installations, sparse mutant hip hop and experimental pop, suggesting new ground will be broken.
Where: Shotta Rave @ The White Hotel (Sunday 1st January 2023; 8AM Start)
Difficult to define and impossible to pigeonhole, a mix from Tom Boogizm is a head-spinning experience shifting between sonic realms without sounding forced or disorientating. Last year’s FACT Magazine mix is a case in point, hence embedding it above: footwork, new wave, dembow, synth, and avant garde electronica before the track list is half done. Ideal business for extended duties in any booth, the fact he’s joined by local Action’s Finn for today makes this the best Christmas present you’ll get all year. If you’re observing the festivities, that is.
Where: Homoelectric @ New Century (Saturday 31st December 2022; 10PM Start)
A bonafide veteran known for the sorely missed Tramp! party, Will Tramp!’s forgotten more about disco, chug, Balearic, house and synth than we’ll ever know, learning to move crowds on his own terms during the event’s five year tenure, before moving to bigger pastures — not least residencies at The Warehouse Project and Homoelectric. He’ll be ringing in the new year at the latter decade-spanning queer-inclusive soiree, which is taking over the future-retro aesthetics of Manchester’s most hyped opening of the past 12 months, New Century.