They say that the second club night is the hardest. The first one is a culmination of initial energy and excitement, you put in all of your effort and invite all of your friends – usually resulting in a half decent night.
With the second event you have to generate your own dynamic crowd by pushing promotion to the maximum, giving people a reason to come back and somehow beating your last headliner. And that’s not to mention that you now have yourself as competition too.
This is the exact challenge that one of Manchester’s newest nights, Exhibit, faced way back at the beginning of the month. After a hugely successful first event with Anthea and Alex Celler playing b2b all night in Sound Control’s basement, the pressure of the second event was looming.
With the announcement of DJ W!LD shortly after the first event and the addition of Liverpool based David Glass a few days after, things were shaping up well. The final touch to the line-up was a showcase of Manchester based label Applique music, who have ties with Ninjury, Si’ke DJs and Twenty12, the latter being the promoter of the night.
I arrived around Midnight, in a small group and entered the doors of Sound Control for ashamedly my first time. The ground floor is a sort of bar area with a few seats to relax on, access to the toilets and smoking area, a bar of course and posters from past nights and nights to come all over the walls.
In the back left hand corner was a small DJ booth and the room was already being filled with some mellow tech house sounds courtesy of the Applique label. As opposed to the last event which was held solely in the basement, Exhibit was running the ground floor bar area along with the larger space found in the loft. Shortly after arriving we took a trip upstairs.
I was impressed with the size of the upstairs room, although immediately it felt like a space more suited to a live performance or band. The bar followed the back of the venue with the DJ at the other side of a room on what can only be described as a stage. Visuals of the nights promotional poster flashed behind David Glass who was already pushing his sound onto the punters.
Throughout the night the visuals added a new dimension to the experience but at times they were a little lacklustre with only a repeated image of the DJ W!LD flyers that have been circulating the city. With that being said, there were also much more impressive patterns, and I think that the visuals on the whole would be much more immersive if the nights branding was incorporated a little more subtly. The loft was a large space, nearing that of Sankey’s basement, and by the time I arrived it was already relatively full. An impressive start.
David Glass was midway through his set at this point and the room was bobbing along naturally. David’s melodic tech house sound has earned him a lot of respect in Liverpool, where FourFour is primarily based, so it was great to see him support DJ W!LD in the city’s larger cousin.
His sound was exactly as we expected and seamless to dance along to, with percussion, vocals and piano samples occasionally picking up the energy. David was laying down a great warm up for W!LD with a collection of his own tracks thrown in.
His productions are very tight and have already earned him plays from masters of the genre such as Richie Hawtin, Carl Cox, Luciano and Mathias Kaden; so it goes without saying that his sound was a perfect addition to the night. If you want to find out more about David Glass, a man who is on the verge of blowing up, be sure to check out our exclusive first ever interview with him.
The room had filled now and the turnout was pretty incredible for a second event. We stood towards the back of the room and hung around a small raised platform that was in the centre of the dance floor, presumably for a lighting control board when bands play live. The room was packed but very spread out, making it easy to get towards the front of the room and giving us the rare pleasure of some space to dance in.
We spent the majority of the night here with occasional trips to the smoking area and toilets in which we passed the Applique label playing the bar area. Unfortunately due to the size of the upstairs room, the bar was always relatively quiet and I rarely saw people stood listening to Applique Label showcase.
From what I heard I was truly impressed with the sound but I feel that they didn’t quite get the exposure they deserved. As I said I would pin this to the large size of upstairs and the coolness of the room – not really giving people a reason to leave it. I don’t really have a solution for the promoter but using the basement and the loft, as awkward as that might seem may have paradoxically gained a few more revellers for Applique.
After Glass spun his final record, the main man himself DJ W!LD graced the decks in the loft. His style transitioned perfectly from Glass’, paying homage to both their levels of DJing and the pairing of headliners by the event organiser. He performed his traditional techy to house style with occasional vocals and energy provided by percussion pick ups.
It’s music that’s multi-levelled in your choice to stand and bop your head to every beat or energetically get lost between the bass kicks and hi hats. W!LD’s set was energetic, yet the crowd was still spread out and herein lies my biggest gripe with the night.
The loft just didn’t feel united, there was no communal energy, no experience from us all being there and enjoying the music together. At time it almost felt like the music was being thrown at us, with the treble coming through a little too harshly at times. I don’t know the cause of this issue, be it the large size of the upstairs room, the cross-demographics of the audience or even the music itself. I find it really hard to pin the problem down exactly but something just didn’t quite feel right.
Regardless of the last point, I think the second Exhibit event was something impressive, with two great headlining acts and a tremendous turnout.
However, something was a little lacklustre and be that the venue itself, the people that were there or just a lack of connection between the people on the night. With larger venues like Warehouse Project drawing massive crowds into Manchester, I am really appreciating the dedicated nights that are springing up to cater for the more localised and hardcore crowd.
I certainly think Exhibit has the potential to be one of these but it needs work still, on it’s visuals, the venue layout (or choice) and somehow making the crowd feel like one united by a common cause and not just a lot of people that don’t want to be at WHP. I look forward to the future of this night, the announcement of it’s next event and the impact that it could have as an alternative to Warehouse and Sankeys.