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» The Warehouse Project Curated by Keiran Hebden on 20th November 2010
The Warehouse Project Curated by Keiran Hebden on 20th November 2010
As part of the ongoing 6th season of Manchester’s Warehouse Project, Keiran Hebden, better known as Four Tet, gathered a collection of DJs and performers underneath Piccadilly train station. It was probably the most indie-centric line-up of the season. BFTP were on hand.
The Warehouse Project is a misleading name. It doesn’t take place in a warehouse, for a start. Sure, the cavernous bomb shelter beneath Manchester Piccadilly is a pretty fucking cool place to host a party, and the grimy concrete floors, bare walls and large open spaces certainly have that abandoned industrial chic about them. But it ain’t a warehouse. This may sound like pedantry, but it says everything about the difference between the truth and what the organisers want you to believe. The Warehouse Project wants you believe it’s a throw-back to the autonomous raves of the acid house era, when a “warehouse party” didn’t just refer to a location but to a whole philosophy of freedom and expression.
It isn’t. The Warehouse Project is almost the exact opposite of a real warehouse party. It’s a corporate event, sponsored by clothing label Bench, with £20 tickets and a small army of security guards. This is a rave only in the most superficial aesthetic sense, a replica sold for profit. And the whole thing sells on surface-level image. There’s no denying the place looks incredible, especially in the thousands of professional photographs that are taken every night. It looks better than any real rave ever could: the lighting is a thousand times better, the venue too perfect to be true and the stages perfectly placed for the optimum spectator experience.
The problem with the Warehouse Project, especially on Saturday night, was that the scene is a lot better to look at it than it is to participate in. It was oversold, for a start: emails went out the day before warning punters to arrive before 11.30pm if they wanted to get in, even if they had a ticket. Because this was a glorified concert, not a rave, the crowd weren’t happy to spread out and fill the vast space naturally, with room for everyone to dance. Instead, the majority were crammed as close to the stage as possible in the main hall to get a view of the performer. Anyone who wanted in or out had to barge aggressively through the closed ranks. You can’t dance in an environment like that. At best you can bob vertically for a few minutes before being shoved in the back yet again. Everyone ended up acting like a cunt, and far from breeding the communal love-in atmosphere of a rave, it lead to an air of sullen selfishness and mutual disdain throughout the crowd.
What also didn’t help was that the music was mostly disappointing. Theo Parrish is something of a Detroit legend, out-spoken, passionate and known for eclectic sets full of EQ-heavy remoulds of tracks. It’s just a shame he can’t mix. Rough cross-fade followed rough cross-fade and he bulldozed his way between tracks like a wedding DJ. His blend of soulful deep house and funk is better to suited to smaller, more intimate spaces, and he should never have been put on the main stage. As he was, his attempts to play big-room tunes were underwhelming at best.
Four Tet himself played probably the best set of the night, sadly constrained to a single hour (compared to two for Theo Parrish). He delivered a live PA which was danceable and slick, even though the live versions didn’t sound radically different to the originals, and there was no live instruments accompanying him. He was followed by Caribou, who have had one of the biggest albums of the year in “Swim”. The record was blighted by poor production, and the live show was similarly let down by rubbish sound design. It also attracted the night’s apex of hipsters having their pill virginity taken while flailing ludicrously to beatless guitar atmospherics.
I’d love to tell you what was happening in the second room, featuring dubstep talents such as Mount Kimbie and Zomby. Sadly we couldn’t get into the second room until 3am, because the queue was backing round the corner. When we did get in, it was stiflingly hot, with a tropical sweat cloud hanging over a sardine-like crowd. Jamie of The XX was making a good living playing dubstep remixes of his own tracks, and then Actress dropping challenging beats to an audience that didn’t have the space to figure out how to dance back.
Inevitably, most of these problems are inherent in the superclub experience: something that has always been far more impressive in photographs than in person. Any halfway knowledgeable clubber should know what to expect from nights like these before they buy the ticket. The Warehouse Project’s venue and self-styled reputation shouldn’t fool you into thinking you’re getting a genuine underground party, but they do make it a bit more disappointing that it isn’t one.
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Tagged with: actress caribou four tet james holden keiran hebden mount kimbie nathan fake theo parrish warehouse project zomby