Photos by Sebastian Manox, via WHP Facebook.
Something's been lacking in our autumn/winter experience so far. Yes it's been getting cold, yes it's started to rain, yes some wise-cracking mates from sixth form have posted subpar tweets about Christmas decorations already being in the shops—gets earlier every year dunnit?—but elsewhere we've been yearning for something else. Something ritualistic that so far we've neglected. It wasn't until we stepped off a train, and onto the frosted streets of Manchester that we realised exactly what it was.
The reason for our pilgrimage up north—of course—was Warehouse Project; Manchester's annual season of twelve weeks, packing the most heavy-hitting of lineups into the tunnels of Store Street. The reason we picked this week to finally make our journey up? Well it just might have been their biggest lineup yet. For this Saturday—a night curated by Numbers and Jackmaster—the roster of DJs included no less than Jackmaster himself, Ricardo Villalobos, Seth Troxler, Bicep, Gerd Janson, Denis Sulta, Marcel Dettmann, Spencer, Ryan Elliott and Leon Vynehall. Which is, you know, not bad for a Saturday night in Manchester.Having so many acts to fit in, last entry was pitched at the unnaturally early hour of 9pm, meaning we'd barely finished the giant couscous salad we'd had for tea, before we were already sweating it out in the warehouse. Now, watching Ricardo Villalobos before midnight is a bit like having a drink before lunchtime. It's wrong, you know that much. It's far too early to be subjecting yourself to it, but after a few sips, you start to warm to the idea, and before you know it you've lost all concept of time and have downed the lot. On typically slinky form, Villalobos writhed behind the decks deploying any number of elusive, unknowable cuts. He wasn't alone either—going B2B with THUMP favourite Seth Troxler gave the set a robustness that Ricardo often does his best to evade, but in this instance benefitted the set greatly.
We dipped out, and made our way to Room 2 to visit Glasgow's fastest rising star Denis Sulta. The new Numbers and Dixon Avenue Basement regular has made massive waves as a DJ, but what's most impressive about watching his sets is just how central his own cuts are to his performance. "Nein Fortiate", "Dubelle Oh XX" and of course, "It's Only Real"—which reared its ever-present head during Jackmaster's set—sent shockwaves through the crowd more than anything else played during the night. The truth is that his enveloping, arpeggio-ridden, techno-tinged rollers are coming to define a point in time for the mainstream end of dance-music's underground. However long it lasts, Denis Sulta's moment has been a big one.It was then back to the main room to enjoy possibly our favourite set of the night, from Gerd Janson. Where every other DJ on the bill opted for the mechanic, hulking and thudding end of the spectrum, it was up to Janson to provide something of a respite. His set threw balearic-tinged house and ebullient, jacked-up disco edits into the mix, including what was presumably a tribute to Pete Burns in the shape of Dead or Alive's "You Spin Me Right Round". By the time he handed over to the night's master of ceremonies, the only way was up.Jackmaster, off the back of enjoying a run of recent successes that seem to be consolidating his status as the UK's biggest (credible) DJ, was a man surveying his empire on saturday night. Rolling through a set that showcased the steelier, more acidic direction his mixes have taken in the last couple of years, he tore Store Street apart. Climaxing with the eventual release of Patrick Hernandez' "Born to Be Alive", his arms were spread, reaching for the skies higher than most of his audience. Not that they weren't enjoying it as well, trust us, they were really enjoying it.And so, following this triumphant display from "Jackie Sequencer", we were left to spend the rest of our evening with Bicep—who are still building plenty of buzz with their trance-kissed new material—and a suitably heads-down conclusion to proceedings from Marcel Dettmann. With that it was over and out, back for a few hours sleep, a bloody mary and a train back home.Warehouse Project can feel like a bit of an effort sometimes, especially when you're not a spritely student bounding under laser lights for the first time. Yet, it's hard to think of another promoter or event that could pull that number of top-tier acts together on the same bill. United by the vision of Numbers and Jackmaster, and powered by the kinetic energy of a thousands-strong crowd, it's fair to say we saw fireworks underground this bonfire night.Follow Angus on Twitter.