So, Warehouse Project - Drumcode from Saturday...
The Glastonbury pal I was going with arrived in Manchester Piccadilly at 7.30pm, returning from two weeks in London taking part in, and photographing, the Rebellion, and the People's Vote March that day. He dropped his bag in a lock-up, chained up his bike and we went to a pub for a drink. It was nice to be with a Manchester (Bury, but, y'know...) lad, as he could show me his town.
We arrived at Mayfield Depot at just before 9pm, partly as Drumcode had emailed earlier in the day announcing 'last entry strictly 9pm', but also because we wanted to max out the night and there were people on by then that I wanted to see. First acts were on at 6.30pm, so when we arrived the queues were very small. Couple of sniffer dogs as you approach the barriered channels to be searched, and security were very nice, searches pretty cursory - much more about metal detectors for blades, which is a pretty sad observation, but that's the way it is now, I guess. Interesting that Twitter has had loads of tweets from people claiming to have arrived in a group and not been allowed entry for no obvious given reason(s). From our perspective, security were fine. Occasional somewhat robust march through the crowd by a threesome of orange jackets, but overall they were pretty discreet.
You enter into a bit of 'lobby' where to your right is the Concourse (the 'second' room) and straight ahead is the cavernous Depot. And holy moly is it big. People have said it's longer than it is wide, and that's true, but it ain't narrow, either! There are two rows of pillars that run along the length, and it's in between these that the crowd is most packed, but still plenty spilling outside of this channel too.
We headed down the left hand side of the Depot towards the far end (away from the stage) which is where you find the entrance to the 'third' room, the Archive. Along that side are lockers - £5 for a small one (big enough unless you're putting your three children in there for the night) with a £10 refundable deposit, which is a bit pricey, but well worth it on a coldish night when there are two of you and you really want to dump several outdoor layers for the next 7 hours. Then there are loos and a water point - all drinks are either in cans or cups, so WHP actually recommend bringing in an empty bottle for water which I did, much to the envy of quite a few people who had some water off me and regretted not having brought their own!
First up in the Archive was B.Traits. I was looking forward to her set as I know she plays quite a lot of electro and that looked like one of the few sets where I might get some. I didn't. The sound from that first stage when we arrived was only ok - definitely not loud enough by a log way, and clarity was so-so. She was playing (sorry, I know I go on about this...) a bit too fast, so a lot of the tracks struggled to find an identity, but overall the hour I saw was decent, and a nice intro to the night. Crowd was pleasant enough, not packed, as most were still in the Depot, presumably a lot of them headliner/big act kind of people who will take a while to realise that the gems are often elsewhere. And then Victor Ruiz came on. Well...what a set. The sound seemed to get better during his set, both in volume and quality, and his 90 minutes was really pretty brilliant. Only a couple of tracks were less than excellent for me, and his selection and running order made for a really high-energy set. He got a brilliant reception, and I got a very nice thank you from a couple of guys who didn't know him and stayed at my recommendation, they having said they like Enrico Sangiuliano. Sadly, my mate missed most of it, having gone off for a cig after B.Traits and come back an hour and a quarter later! I asked him where the hell he had been and he thought it had only been about 20 minutes! Fool.
After Victor we went into the Depot for the last 45 mins of Enrico, working our way to about 15m from the front, dead centre (there's a surprise). Sound on the big stage from there was superb. Really crisp, great separation, brilliant bass and kick and plenty loud. Enrico give us a typically euphoric 45 minutes, saving his lush chordal stuff for the second half of the set. Genuine hands in the air stuff with not a hint of cheese. The big screen behind him had some excellent visuals (probably even better from slightly further back) and the lights were great. Crowd down the front was good, and despite it being pretty full, we managed to carve out space to dance without hindrance. His Lordship, Herr Beyer, was up next. We were in two minds as to what to do as we had intended to go straight to Pan-Pot from Enrico, but the sound was so good where we were, that we stayed for half an hour. Which was great, but enough. He is pretty generic for me, if fun on a decent sound system. Pan-Pot were better in the Concourse, and then 15 minutes of Alan Fitzpatrick saw us hoofing it all the way back (it is a fair way, the place is BIG) to the Archive for Monika Kruse. I like Monika. She clearly loves doing what she does and, when she hits her stride, can play some of my favourite type of full-on techno. I love how she builds her percussion tracks. But. She does have this tendency to build up to a brilliant full track, and then whip it away from you too soon, reverting to a single 4-beat kick/bass, before building it up again in a pretty similar pattern each time - off-beat simple high-hat or click, add in a bit more percussion, and then the body of the track around it. It's not that I don't enjoy the tracks, it's just there is rarely any 'wow, didn't see that coming' moments. Compare that to the hour long masterclass that Child 3 and I saw from DVS1 (the man is a techno genius) at Dimensions and you're left a little unsatisfied. But, the hour of her we saw was smashing overall, and at about 3.30am we bugged out and got a taxi to The White Hotel. WHP finished at 4am and so we had always intended to try to find something afterwards.
One of the best venues I've ever been in. One of the best crowds I've ever been in. One of the best raves I've ever been to. Brilliant size, simple but really effective lights and (lots and lots of) smoke making an amazing atmosphere, fantastic sound with speakers from the booth and behind you. Mama Snake was just hitting full gas in a 5 hour set of techno, electro and trance. For two hours she didn't put a foot wrong. Truly one of those dance experiences. At 6am, when she finally slowed down the beats to a stop, I was absolutely gutted that it was over. You can't ask for more than that.
My pal then took me on a guided walking tour of the highlights from Salford back into Manchester as the city woke up and the sun rose. First train south from Piccadilly and home by 1030am.