Manchester proves it’s still a drum & bass stronghold as thousands rave in abandoned train station Depot

It was a night for true born and bred Manny sounds.

Frenetic breakbeats and pulsating, gritty basslines cut through the darkness of Depot with technical precision. Music lovers, old and young, skanked together under a dripping roof. Towering sound systems trembled at 180bpm.

Yes, it was the Metropolis and Worried About Henry Warehouse Project takeover. And the line-up promised a night of proper, unadulterated Manchester bass.

Manchester’s love affair with the genre dates all the way back to the early 90s when A Guy Called Gerald was first messing about with proto-jungle tracks like 28 Gun Bad Boy Salute and Money Honey during his Hacienda days.

And it’s continued to flourish, as Saturday confirmed. In fact, the line-up read like a who’s who of Manchester D&B history, from era-spanning stalwarts Mark XTC, Trigga and North Base, to legendary cohorts Dub Phizix and Strategy, Bloc2Bloc rising star Indika and the numerous talented upstarts that form Levelz crew.

Photo credit: Danny Sargent

Mark XTC was, of course, representing the old guard of Da Intalex, the legendary Manchester rave outfit founded by Marcus Kaye that flew the flag for jungle and D&B in the city. A prominent teacher at the Manchester College, he’s helped raise more than his fair share of the city’s next generation of DJs and producers.

XTC has long been a driving force behind the north’s underground scene and has been destroying speaker boxes for years. He opened up Concourse, Warehouse’s room two, with a back to back set with ex-pupil Exile. Drawing on influences from two different eras, their old school meets new school ethos offered a mix of hardcore and drum and bass anthems that went down a treat.

Over in Archive, early sets came from the new guard with Rich Reason, the DJ and promoter behind the city’s contemporary bass music scene who runs Hit&Run and loosely managed the chaos of the Levelz collective, Chimpo and Barely Legal all stepping up to the decks.

Photo credit: Danny Sargent

A solid set of mates, Chimpo and Barely have a longstanding propensity for unconventional back to back sets. They dropped a lively mix of D&B, jungle, old skool, grime and trap,  hotting things up nicely for Levelz to take the stage.

The genre-disrupting collective threw themselves about on stage with characteristic loucheness as rhymes flew down the mic at double speed. It wasn’t even midnight, but the little Archive stage was packed out. Afterwards, fans crowded around the barriers for a picture with their hometown heroes.

At Concourse, Dub Phizix and Strategy were throwing down their signature brand of dutty half step, dropping favourites like 2011’s dancehall-influenced Marka and 2014’s feverish Buffalo Charge.

On raised platforms around them, a thriving mass of D&B loyalists moved in unison to the weighty pulse of Dub Phizix’s deep and nasty breakbeats and Strategy’s rapid-fire rhymes.

But, in the end, all roads lead to Depot, where headline dons Chase & Status would close the night. Both got into the genre whilst studying at university here and were part of a fresh production wave that followed in the noughties (with a little guidance and inspiration from local D&B institution Future Cut and vocally-gifted goddess Jenna G).

Credited for their role in nursing D&B back into mainstream consciousness, the duo is inarguably one of the genre’s most prominent crossover acts. And they didn’t disappoint, mixing up back catalogue favourites with as yet unfamiliar new material.

Photo credit: Jody Hartley

As they took up their positions, red lasers spliced through the 10,000 capacity space and flames burst into thin air from either side of the gargantuan stage. From amidst the towering steel columns, ecstatic ravers threw their hands in the air as they moved to the music.

Metropolis and WAH delivered an eclectic mix of bass music genres with a roster packed with homegrown artists throughout the night, a testament to the wide-ranging talents of our city.

Half-time, dubstep, grime and D&B rumbled in its various guises through the three cavernous rooms of Warehouse Project’s new home as the old guard of ravers mixed with the new, cementing Manchester’s continued reputation as a real D&B stronghold.


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