- Manchester's Warehouse Project has been attracting clubbers from around the UK and the rest of the world, from September through to New Year's Eve, for the last six years. With this year being WHP's last series at their Store Street location, more people than ever before have been clamouring for tickets, leading many of the series' biggest nights to sell out within days of their release—as was the case with the Crosstown Rebels soiree in the second week of December.
Store Street is a classic rave venue. Used as a car park during the week, it's transformed into an adult playground for the weekend, a location that resident DJ Krysko refers to as "a bit naughty" in reference to the illegal feel of the place. Through the night the grime builds up as the exposed brick arches leak water, thanks to the combined perspiration of thousands of bodies (all part of the WHP experience). Comprised of two main rooms, with a chill out area and several well placed bars and a big area full of portaloos (conveniently colour coded for men and women), it's simple and raw yet runs like clockwork.
Arriving at just before midnight, the main room was already bustling with bodies as Hot Creations mainstay Robert James worked up the crowd with a selection of sounds that have become a staple of the label. In the minutes leading up to Art Department's appearance on stage in Room 1, the numbers inside swelled and eventually, as Kenny Glasgow and Jonny White cued up their first track, the main room was rammed with bodies. Their set opened reasonably slowly, building up to Maceo Plex's "Under the Sheets" which upped the tempo somewhat, pushing through to a moody ending with the Daniel Bortz edit of James Blake's "Limit to Your Love."
Room 2 was just as busy. Last minute addition Miguel Campbell and Mathew Jonson took different approaches musically, but turned out similarly fevered results. In the main room the atmosphere was doubly electrified as Seth Troxler and Jamie Jones stepped up. What ensued was a masterclass in back-to-back DJing, as the duo worked the crowd from the harder side of house and techno to the deeper end of the scale, with Justin Martin's remix of "Mushrooms" by Marshall Jefferson vs. Noosa Heads taking everyone into spacey territory.
Last up was Crosstown Rebels head honcho Damian Lazarus, and it was with his set where the celebrations really took off. Surrounded by his artists, various associates and dancers, some of whom were dressed in bizarre attire reminiscent of ancient Egyptians, Lazarus was clearly in his element. Notable moments came courtesy of new remixes of Azari & III's "Reckless With Your Love" (by Tiga) and Art Department's "Why." The close was deservedly indulgent, with Lazarus dropping Chaka Khan's "Ain't Nobody" as most of the night's DJs danced away at the front of the stage. The crowd sang along and Jamie Jones, clearly in high spirits, stage-dived. A testament to the label's pulling power was the diversity of that crowd, from the typical vest wearing fist-pumpers and well-groomed scenesters, to elegantly dressed girls and older party people—perhaps a sign that 2012 could be even bigger for Lazarus and his team.