I went to explore the new venue and the array of acts who made up the welcome weekend.
Call me a veteran if you wish – four years running, 25 events and probably the same amount of hangovers. When it comes to Warehouse Project, I pretty much know the schedule. Well, at least I thought I did. After the wide scale debate of where the new venue should be – Manchester Academy’s too small, Victoria Warehouse’s a bit cliché – the retired Mayfield railway station was chosen, and honestly I couldn’t think of a much better venue.
The place is ginormous, accessible, and the sound system is booming. With a capacity of 10,000 revellers, the Depot is a far cry from the suitably cosy Store Street which saw a much smaller turnout manage to put the event series at the forefront of the UK clubbing scene. With continual mentions in MixMag and DJ Mag, it’s no surprise the Warehouse has become so iconic.
With the drastic increase in attendees and the sheer scale of the venue, it proved almost impossible not to get lost going from the Depot to the Concourse to the Archive. Whilst Store Street was three distinct rooms which made it easy to move from one DJ to the other, the Depot at Mayfield is a complete labyrinth and pattern of asking yourself where you are and how you got there. Still, if you know your acts it’s not a complete struggle.
Friday saw Aphex Twin, Lee Gamble, and golden girl Nina Kraviz take to the Depot stage, whilst Fisher played both Friday and Saturday nights at Victoria Warehouse before heading to Ibiza to continue the rest of his 2019 tour.
Disclosure headlined the Saturday evening at the Depot playing a powerful 11pm – 1am DJ set. The electronic music duo, made up of brothers Howard and Guy Lawrence, are leaders in the global dance scene after releasing their debut album ‘Settle’ in 2013 and working alongside Sam Smith, Eliza Doolittle and Flume.
Their track ‘When A Fire Starts to Burn’ sounded incredible up close coupled with an energetic light show. The passion from the crowd was unreal. As well as playing their own tracks, Disclosure also highlighted fellow Warehouse performers, teasing ‘Mesablanca’ by O’Flynn who will be entering the venue in November. Unfortunately, Annie Mac played a rather forgetful set, but following after the monumental Disclosure was no easy feat so we can’t fault her.
Side note: being a mother of two, BBC Radio 1 presenter and global DJ makes me feel like Annie has more interpersonal skills than our current Prime Minister so there’s that.
Maribou State were also a welcome introduction to The Warehouse Project with Holly Walker’s distinct soulful voice bringing a certain intimacy to the grandiose venue and a playful distraction from heavy DJ sets. Having seen the band three times this year, including a not-so-great performance at Parklife (sorry boys), it was amazing to finally hear ‘Beginner’s Luck’ played the way it should.
The event closed at 4am with Mall Grab, Denis Sulta, and Mella Dee playing overlapping sets at different venues. To say it was difficult choosing which of the music giants to head to is an understatement. At Store Street, it was easy to alternate from each room but this isn’t the case in the Depot at Mayfield so future attendees should come with a pre-made plan of action.
I was genuinely upset to miss out on Sulta’s ‘Dubelle Oh XX’ and having to listen to it on social media stories the next day instead. Still, Mall Grab wasn’t a bad contender. The Australian producer who released his short-but-sweet ‘Growing Pains’ EP at the start of summer is gaining traction for his house tracks and Boiler Room sets, and his most popular track ‘Liverpool Street in The Rain’ became one of the standout moments of the night.
After the success of the opening weekend and Welcome to the Depot reminding us why the motto “For Twelve Weeks This City is Ours” could be about nowhere else, we are so excited for what the rest of this season will bring.
The Warehouse Project is open on selective nights until January 2020. Some tickets still remain, including Kaluki presents on Saturday 28 September. Find more information here.