Blur versus Oasis. Arsenal versus Manchester United. That guy called ‘Terry’ who always stinks of weed and texts you every Friday versus that guy called ‘Karl’ who always stinks of weed and texts you every Friday with shitloads of winky faces at the end.
There’s been a long history of rivalry between London and Manchester over the years. And with this season’s selection of Warehouse Project line ups, it looks like shots are being fired by Manchester across the four and a half hour Megabus route in the battle for ‘Best City To Get Absolutely Trollied With Your Mates And Shock Out” supremacy.
A lot’s been said about Warehouse Project and their dauntingly heavyweight artist rosters over the years, so I decided to board said Megabus last Saturday to see what the fuss was all about.
Upon arrival at Store Street, I have to say Warehouse Project is not the most inviting place to be. Queues wigwag off into oblivion; hench bouncers bark orders at you and sniffer dogs jitter their noses all over your lower halves. This really is not a Warehouse Project problem per se, more a symptom of increasingly nervous promoters being hounded by draconic councils and government legislation. I guess in this new Tory Britain, everyone is treated like a criminal until proven innocent.
ANYWAY the fucking rave was banging. I mean, holy smokes. Cutting my way through the dense forestry of roadmen in bucket hats and pretty girls in nice dresses and flats, I made just in time for adamant crowd pleasers The Square. They produced a set that was so overwhelmingly heavy that a few people were literally standing around looking confused at the sheer noise coming at them.
Up next was Plastician, one of the most consistent performers in the scene today. I remember seeing him five years ago in the Rinse/FWD nights and although the songs may have changed, his relentless dedication to cutting edge grime instrumentals and basslines hasn’t. Got me welling up with nostalgic tears it did. This was all while my mate was pulling a random dude in the dance so all in all a good time was had by all.
Then came the time for the headliners and reason 99% of the audience seemed to be there, Jme & Skepta. Their set was slick, furious and non-stop fun. They tore through grime classics like ‘That’s Not Me’, ‘Shutdown’ and ‘Too Many Man’ without pause, as a sea of snapbacks and new era caps bobbed up and down, gun fingers raised and lyrics bellowed. When they brought out Lethal Bizzle for ‘Pow’ it basically went off, and was extremely good fun.
As expected from a night of this magnitude the system was inch perfect. In what was essentially a grime night, the basslines always hit right in the gut and none of the lyrics were ever muddied or lost in the sound, at least as much as is possible with hundreds of people screaming along with them every second.
There were a few little details inside the rave that rankled, namely the insanely long queues for the smoking areas and the £8 charge for a sprit and mixer. If Warehouse Project is competing with some of the mega-raves of The Hydra and LWE in London in terms of artists, it certainly is in terms of price of drinks and the punters dedication to smoking.
Also, although Room 2 had some great artists playing, like Chimpo (who played an excellent D’n’B set) Zomby and Kode 9, it felt quite empty most of the time, although that is not a slight on the artists and more just that the crowd was dead keen to shout lyrics back at their favourite emcees.
If this sounds at all negative it really isn’t. The overall experience, the atmosphere, the crowd and ultimately the sense of fun, was up there with some of the best nights I’ve ever been to. This is a serious night for people looking to lose themselves for a good five hours or so, and one that is efficient and streamlined in providing the best place for you to do that.
I guess it was none the more summed up by having a legend like DJ EZ bang it out as one of the final sets. When he dropped the Stormzy banger ‘Shut Up’, the crowd predictably went crazy, and although the song choice was as expected, it as entertaining and got everyone having a good time, which is basically the fucking point isn’t it?
So all in all a great night and I can’t wait to come back. Shots fired…