After many months of speculation and anticipation, Easter weekend saw The Warehouse Project open the doors to their brand new Trafford Park venue, for two nights of the very best in House music. Friday welcomed a stellar Progressive line-up, including Eriz Prydz, Axwell, John Digweed & Joris Voorn, with Sunday playing host to Loco Dice, Claude Von Stroke, Julio Bashmore, Heidi, Maya Jane Coles & many more. Store Street has been an iconic place in Manchester's history over the past 5 years, meaning the new venue had a lot to live up to, but thankfully it did, in emphatic fashion.
I arrived in a wet and windy Manchester at 9pm on Sunday 8th April, to find a long and winding queue outside a Warehouse on Trafford Park Road, which is situated just around the corner from The Lowry & Old Trafford Football Ground. Although there were no problems with getting in, a problem was encountered early on with the toilets; the bouncer explained that no drinks were allowed inside, which is fair enough, so I left it on the floor behind the bin outside, to then come out and find that the same bouncer had thrown it away - usually this wouldn't be a problem, but the drink was full and cost me £5 - not cool. The first hour was then spent walking around the venue in awe of the size of it, trying to get my bearings and work out where everything was - it wasn't until 10pm that I made it into the main room, which was a mind-blowing experience in itself. Having danced a little bit in Room 2 & 3, it felt like you had been warming yourself up in small tents and accidentally stumbled upon the main stage/arena at a festival - from seeing pictures on Friday night, I knew the main room was going to be big, but nowhere near the size it is. Claude Von Stroke was cool, Bashmore was brilliant as ever, but Damu stole the show for the first few hours in Room 3, merging dark & deep house with lots of underground bass-infused music - his set was very reminiscent to that of Four Tet, who is one of my favourite DJs in the world.
Room 2 then seemed to become a lot quieter and easier to move in, which made things a lot more enjoyable for everyone. Benoit & Sergio played a top hour, but Nina Kraviz was absolutely wonderful - drawing on tracks from her recently released debut album, along with many of my favourite tracks out there at the minute - been a big fan of this lady for some time now, heard great things about her live sets, and she didn't disappoint. From there on in we flittered between the main room and Room 2 to catch as much of Loco Dice & Heidi as we could - however, having seen Heidi a few times over the past couple of months, I wanted to see what the owner of Desolat had to offer. I've never been the biggest fan of Loco Dice's music, and have never been able to understand why people pay £200+ to see him play, but after watching most of his two hour set, it began to make sense - the level of mixing and his track selection was flawless, he kept the crowd up from start to finish and it was probably my favourite set of the night. Managed to catch half an hour of Jamie Jones before having to leave, and it was amazing to see how far he has come over the past 2 years - technically still one of the best out there and he puts on one hell of a show.
On the whole, with everything taken into consideration, it was everything it could be, and more. Store Street was a simply incredible venue, but every aspect about Trafford Park is on another level - the sound system, the layout and the lights in particular made for a stunning setting and everything you could wish for from a night club - maybe the fact that it's an actual warehouse and not a car park under a train station had a lot to do with what how far they could go with their plans. Two negatives, apart from the toilet issue, were that the VIP area was basically just a bunch of chairs and people were spending half an hour trying to get back in from the smoking area. However, both of these are minor issues and should be easily rectified before The Warehouse Project properly kicks off in September.
I was expecting my Easter Weekend to be good, but this was genuinely the best Easter Weekend I've ever had - a massive big up to everyone involved, you really pulled out all the stops.
P.S. Don't wear your best shoes...