Ever since the days of the ‘Rave Revolution’ back in the late 80s, Manchester has existed as a centrepiece in the UK’s illustrious history of electronic music. Spearheaded by the Haçienda, the underground electronic and dance scene rode a wave of huge success into the 90s. However, as a new millennium dawned, and the venues that had birthed club culture began to disappear, the scene and those who populated it yearned for a new place to dance away their troubles. Enter, ‘The Warehouse Project’.
The brainchild of Manchester natives Sacha Lord-Marchionne and Sam Kandel, The Warehouse Project (WHP) was opened in the autumn of 2006 at the Boddington Brewery, Strangeways. During its first (and only year) in the iconic Warehouse, for which it is named, WHP immediately put Manchester back at the heart of the underground and urban music scene. With live sets from the likes of Public Enemy, Pendulum, Soulwax, and Jeff Mills, WHP didn’t start small, but — during its first three month season — exemplified the broad variety which has since become a crucial characteristic of its success.
The year after its debut, WHP arrived in Store Street. Inhabiting an unused air raid shelter below Piccadilly Station, the event seemed to have found its spiritual home. The red brick walls and unique arches provided a setting that has since become a distinctive and world-renowned fortress for music of the highest standard. If any venue was to recreate the ‘Madchester’ era for a millennial generation, it was this.
Over the course of its time in Store Street, WHP has become famed for its diverse musical lineups in terms of genre, and its willingness to place huge international acts amongst up-and-coming grassroots talent. However, as this years season rolled around, it was announced that revellers would have to bid a fond and final farewell to the infamous venue as developments to the Piccadilly area were to cause a ‘natural conclusion’ to WHP’s time there.
This isn’t the first time that the event has stepped away from Store Street (having spent time at the Victoria Warehouse in Trafford between 2012 and 2013), but this year will be conclusive — “there will be no return.” Organisers are looking to give the iconic venue a fitting send-off, and this season’s line-up is characteristically impressive and wide-ranging.
With nights curated by the likes of Annie Mac, Four Tet, and Denis Sulta, all of whom are longstanding members of the WHP stronghold, coupled with appearances from pioneers of hip-hop and dance music, notably Pusha T and Underworld, musical variety remains prevalent as ever. New for this years ‘Farewell Store Street’ programme, in collaboration with Manchester International Festival, is a string of special events at the immense Mayfield Depot headlined by Bonobo, Bicep, Fever Ray, and Manchester MC, Bugzy Malone.
Perhaps this is where we will see WHP resettle in the future? All we do know is this season promises, yet again, to stand alone as one of the most unique and exciting events in live music.
The Warehouse Project has been instrumental in maintaining Manchester’s prevalence as a cultural powerhouse for 12 years now. With this season looking as impressive as ever, movement away from Store Street offers a world of opportunity and with relative silence on the matter of relocation from organisers, who knows what the future holds for the legendary event. For these 12 weeks, however, the city really is theirs.
On that note, why not venture to WHP’s event ‘Rush Hour’ this Saturday? Beginning at 14:00 and lasting till 2:00 am, WHP are hosting a whopping lineup playing the likes of Hunee, Antal, and Moodymann, not to mention live performances from Kuniyuki x Sauce81 and Jordan GCZ.
For more information and tickets, visit their website: https://www.thewarehouseproject.com/event/rush-hour