The Warehouse Project (WHP) was joined by headliner Annie Mac, and other DJs including LF System, Nia Archives, and JAGUAR on Halloweekend (Saturday October 29). The Depot was filled with devils, ghouls, angels, fairies, elves, you name it, the list goes on… Whilst the night certainly didn’t feel like we were in hell, it dropped just short of being heavenly – largely due to the high expectations of LF System not being reached. The standout performance of the night was Nia Archives, making the night feel like it peaked too early.
Kicking off my trip to the Mayfair Depot was DJ Boring at the concourse stage, and it certainly wasn’t boring. DJ Boring rocked his set in his Asics, and he did the job of getting us in high spirits with pumping beats and crowd-pleasing remixes. The concourse stage was quite something; sick visuals of fire, skeletons, and eyes on screen hanging from the ceiling. The lasers added to the intensity of the drops.
Before the changeover between Nia Archives and himself, they hugged behind the decks, and it truly was a wholesome moment. It was heart-warming witnessing the changeover up close and the applause between sets. The DJ community seems supportive and caring of each other.
Nia Archives walked onto the concourse stage in baby pink Juicy Couture tracksuit and a small cuddly dog – dressed as Paris Hilton! It took a few minutes for her to get into her stride but as soon as she played a remix of ‘Gypsy Woman’, she had the crowd’s full approval and attention. Occasionally she looked back for reassurance and a thumbs up from her crew, but this was hardly noticeable during her set, especially when she picked up the mic and screamed “Manchester! I wanna see you skanking!”
Before her set, she’d teased some new breaks on her Instagram story and these breaks delivered, for example, using Yeah Yeah Yeahs‘ ‘Heads Will Roll’. Following a rewind, she again picked up the mic to exclaim “reeeeeewind,” which the crowd loved and got involved with screaming it back.
Previously when I’ve seen Nia, the sound let her down with a lack of bass. This wasn’t the case at Warehouse Project. The floor was shaking with the bass, you could feel it in your heart, and that’s how you know it’s going to be a good night.
When playing her own tracks, Nia picked up the mic to sing along. Her set was broken up with her own tracks and it meant the set flowed really well. Another key aspect was it was reassuring to see men enjoying her set carefree. This is especially welcome given the discrimination that female DJs face.
Nia truly knows how to work the crowd with random men telling me “this is so good init,” to which I obviously agreed. Towards the end of her set, she played her tracks ‘Sober Feels’, ‘Forbidden Feelingz’, and ended with her recent release ‘Baiana’. At the end there were prolonged chants of “Nia! Nia! Nia!” and long applause. I almost felt secondary awkwardness for the next DJ as he had a high bar to live up to.
Next up was JAGUAR from BBC Introducing Dance. Aided by some dancers, JAGUAR’s set was definitely causing people to bust some moves. This set was something else, I was absolutely loving it, and it was clear WHP pulled out all the stops for the Halloween special. The dancers at first were cats, so I had originally thought they were to match JAGUAR, as part of the cat family… But, midway through the set the two cats were replaced by four men with clown face painting and white suits. These dancers 100% encouraged the crowd to move more than the classic sway, head nod, and occasional gun fingers.
JAGUAR knew how to keep the crowd engaged – I imagine due to her BBC dance show – her set was filled with massive dance classics, sampled and mixed into beats and bassline. These dance classics included ‘Murder on the Dance Floor’ and ‘Poison’. The lasers in the archive were also a great addition.
Again, jumping back to her presenter status, this experience showed as she knew how and when to interact with the crowd, selectively saying “let’s blow this one up,” and “happy Halloween.” She did really well not to get distracted by the dancers in front of her too, cos wow oh wow they were so funny, but in a good way.
Later on, Annie Mac was joined by flame dancers on stage, truly adding to the Halloween ambience. Towards the beginning of her set, she interacted with the crowd shouting “What’s up Manchester!”, this, to me, showed her experience and why she’s one of the most in demand DJs. She had a set of over an hour and half, filled with dance hits and a sweet yet deep baseline – I know they almost contradict each other but it’s the only way I can describe. Again, the lasers stood out as great production from the WHP organisers. At this point in the night, clearly the heat of all attendees was too much for some, who had stripped and abandoned their clothes on the floor…
Midway through her set, Mac played LF System’s ‘Afraid to Feel’, which in a way I find slightly controversial. Those, like me, who had started expiring and craving cheesy chips, but were wanting to see LF system play their hit track (which lasted seven weeks at number one), no longer had that motivation to long it out (because the hit had already been played). I don’t think it was necessarily intentional, but it was an interesting choice, especially as at the end of her set she thanked the crowd and said “Happy Halloween Warehouse Project, make some noise for LF System.”
During Mac’s set, WHP released confetti multiple times – further proving my point that they put in the work for a great production. Towards the end of her set, it started to feel a bit repetitive, however, she brought it back with the remix of Whitney Houston’s ‘It’s Not Right But Its Okay’, and Eliza Rose’s ‘B.O.T.A (Baddest Of Them All)’.
LF System were also on the main stage and joined by flame and fire dancers again. The Scottish duo found success in the charts with their track ‘Afraid To Feel’ – which samples Silk’s ‘I Can’t Stop (Turning You On)’. They were clearly buzzing and having a great time on stage behind the decks. Those who had lasted were treated with a good set – although I was slightly underwhelmed. I did have high expectations as I had been told by some mates that LF System were great up in Edinburgh, so I did feel slightly let down. However, this is not to say I would see them again.
It was actually really interesting spectating and reviewing this Warehouse Project – going into the night in a more analytical mindset made me notice thing I hadn’t beforehand: for example, the debate and discussion around phones at music events. The majority of the time I didn’t see phones; I saw people enjoying themselves, the company of their mates, and enjoying the tracks. But when a huge drop or an unreal track came on everyone got their phones out around at the same time; and for about two minutes it was a sea of phones, and that’s all you could see. It almost sounds a bit like an episode of Black Mirror.
Overall, I felt like WHP was busy, but in comparison to the night before (Solid Grooves), it clearly was not… compare my picture and this video below: