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14th October 2022

Live review: XXL at Warehouse Project

Techno takes over the Depot but The Archive steals the show
Live review: XXL at Warehouse Project
Photo: Clara CuvéLuke Hewitt @ The Mancunion

XXL returned to Warehouse Project (WHP) with a jam-packed line-up featuring the biggest names in techno. The event, created by Manchester based promoter Teletech, sold out months ago as eager fans snapped up the tickets for the gargantuan line-up. The headliner, Amelie lens, was undoubtedly a huge draw but it was the smaller, more intimate venue, The Archive, which had the evening’s truly unforgettable acts.

The Warehouse Project never ceases to amaze me with the crowd it draws. People from all over the world flock to the Depot Mayfield for one night of hedonistic dancing. A friend of mine travelled 5 hours by bus from Cardiff and 5 hours back at the end of the night. I can easily guess which leg of the trip the bus driver preferred, but it speaks to the lengths people are willing to go to attend one of the top clubbing experiences in the world. 

Every sub-genre of raver was represented and each outfit was as brilliant as the next. Ranging from techno goths with thick eyeliner and clumpy Doc Martens to Nike tech wearers with every shade of Air Max 95 (110), the room was a cross-section of the techno scene.

I spoke to a woman in her 50s who was with her teenage daughter and the delight in her voice about how much she was enjoying herself really rang through. This is what makes WHP so special, its ability to bring together everyone regardless of their differences, under one leaky roof for a night of utter escapism.   

As I arrived into the main room I caught the tail end of AnD’s set which truly set the tone for the evening and got my feet moving and grooving. It really was a tough act to follow and Marcel Dettmann and Helena Hauff struggled to recapture the energy that coursed through the culmination of AnD’s set, but I appreciated the intricacies of the set which didn’t rely on heavy drops and thumping bassline, giving a more subtle demonstration of techno.

Photo: Marcel Dettmann & Helena Hauff – Luke Hewitt @ The Mancunion

From there, a brief trip into the concourse to see Richie Hawtin proved too difficult; the room was packed all the way to the back with barely any space to wiggle your way back out, suggesting Hawtin might have been better served by a bigger stage. He is not scheduled back at Depot Mayfield this year, but when he does return he surely has to be on the Depot stage!!

One of the best things about an event like XXL and WHP is coming away having fallen deeply in love with a new artist that was completely anonymous to you prior to the event. In this case, misreading the set times led me to The Archive where I thought I would be seeing Brutalismus 3000 but instead I found Clara Cuvé.

Cuvé, a regular on the Berlin techno circuit, had an hour and a half barrage that assaulted all the senses. Stunning visuals, tune after tune, not a single song missed the mark. Every drop was met with screams of agonising delight from the crowd. Agony from the fact that after an hour of non-stop stomping everyone was dead on their feet; the breathless set was a complete whirlwind and possibly the best of the night. 

If that wasn’t enough, after Cuvé came the act I was most unsure about prior to the event, Brutalismus 3000. B3000, originally from Slovakia but now based in Berlin, is composed of Theo Zeitner on decks and live vocal performance by Victoria Vassiliki Daldas. To simply describe Brutalismus 3000 as a techno act would be doing them a disservice. They are unlike any techno act in the world. 

On their Instagram they describe themselves as “nu gabber post techno punk”, and that kind of encompasses them but it is the type of style that needs to be experienced to fully understand. Bouncing from their most famous track ‘Satan Was a Baby Boomer’ to ‘Born Slippy’ by Underworld through to a remix of The Sugababes ‘Push the button’, everything was weird, wacky but so, so wünderbar! The visuals were moody and ominous. The crowd was hooked from the first song and The Archive was full to the brim.

Photo: Brutalismus 3000 – Luke Hewitt @ The Mancunion

When Brutalismus come back to WHP, I can almost guarantee they will be on one of the bigger stages, if not headlining. Their performances over the past year have propelled them further and further up the ranks in the techno world and it’s not difficult to see why. Their 2021 Boiler Room Set from London’s Possession has garnered over 2.3 million views on YouTube and is easily one of the most unique sets I’ve seen in the last couple of years.

Now it was time for Amelie Lens. I had never seen Lens live before but I had seen from videos and social media that her energy is infectious. From half a warehouse away I could see her non-stop dancing and bouncing hair. The music was on the money from the word go, and the crowd were eagerly jumping and stomping along with Lens. The track selection never wandered, and the opening 3 tunes in particular made my hairs stand on end. The opening 20 minutes told everyone in attendance that they were in for something special. 

Unfortunately, there was a slight technical issue at the end of Lens’ set, which she would later explain on her Instagram as an issue with a different artist’s mixer on the stage, but it didn’t take anything away from a sublime 90 minutes of energetic techno from Belgium’s finest. 

With three months left of this years WHP it’s difficult to see this lineup being beaten. From top to bottom the XXL lineup was stacked. Teletech should be applauded for assembling one of the best line-ups outside of a major festival this year and I, for one, cannot wait for next year. 

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