I LOVE Sankey’s as a brand, but the Manchester venue has room for improvement in my eyes.
I was at Sankey’s Manchester for a Tribal Sessions night on Friday 25th October as one of my favourites, Dubfire was playing. Personally, I do not think Sankey’s is my favourite venue for a variety of reasons but I haven’t seen Dubfire since summer, where I saw him at Enter, where his set was truly enchanting.
The DJ on before Dubfire was Hector Couto, who played a variety of his signature bouncing tech-house tracks. The crowd were bouncing but weren’t fully focused on the man controlling the musical vibes. Sort of your standard Sankeys crowd who had an interest in music.
About 10 minutes before the end of Couto’s set, I could see Dubfire, engaging with the tracks being played, and finding a suitable starting track using his Sennheiser HD25’s (which I also proudly own) and I immediately felt a rush of excitement, almost starstruck. I guess I felt how most people met when they see a commercial celebrity. Sad? I don’t care.
Time for dubfire, and the happy beats and bouncing high hats of Couto’s set were replaced with a darker beat, more focused energy and solemn feel to it. 2 very different styles of music but the latter seemed to gauge more interest with the crowd; whether they were confused and were listening intently or enchanted and ready for a darker set of beats.
10 minutes into his set, what was playing sounded not like tracks but a collection of sounds produced from samples, beats and ableton live (which is very Dubfire so was to be expected) it became too slow to ‘dance’ to so people just sort of swayed and listened.
Time for a cigarette; accompanied by my friend we head outside and start chatting about the sets so far (does everyone do this?!) He claims that he feel’s Hector Couto’s set was better than Dubfires, I’m a little shocked he said this as, Dubfire has only been on for 30 minutes or so and also because he used to prefer darker techno than the happy tech house which I used to love. We discussed our opinions and concluded that both DJs were doing a good job of what they were doing and that its difficult to compare who is better as they are both different. It is also important to note that although Couto was on just before Dubfire he was no way acting as a warm up DJ, they are both named DJs. Perhaps Dubfire’s set would have been differently received if it would have followed a specifically constructed warm up set by someone in a similar genre.
He dropped Exit, perhaps I use the term ‘dropped’ a little loosely, it took around 8-10 minutes to let all aspects of the track seep through the speakers. Once the track was in, the crowd went wild, and I was left wondering if all these people knew the song or just really enjoyed the driving bass and sexy vocal stab. It’s not that it’s an issue of these people hadn’t heard this track prior to the event,I just wondered if I have more interest in finding tracks than the average rave goer or if everyone, like me, has an idea of each dj’s production styles and set techniques.
Back to Sankeys, as a venue. Firstly, I do not like the doorstaff, they are unnecessarily rude. I have been working in bars since I was 18 and I know the way they treat the public is disgusting. I have access to a studio in Beehive mill and the entrance is next to the queue for Sankey’s events, everytime I head to the studio entrance, I am followed, intimidated and questioned.
During my previous visit to Sankeys, my friend was refused entry as he had a ‘branded T shirt’ (a black Ralph Lauren polo with a logo the size of a thumbnail), he changes his top (at out conveniently located studio) and once inside we see many people with similar styles of t-shirts. Not acceptable.
I also feel the crowd at Sankey’s to be a bit odd. You get your usual music lovers and students and mancunians, but there’s always an array of chavs, older people and even people trying to get in wearing suits (an alternative wedding reception venue?!)
It is hard to enjoy a night at Sankey’s fully as the air con just seems to push a little bit of warm air back into the heat pocketed rave. The strange one way system is confusing (you’re not WHP!) and the queue to get to the smoking area is 15-20 minutes if you want a seat! The smoking area then shut before 4am, even though the venue is open till 6-7am (it is in a residential area so not strictly Sankey’s fault).
So that’s Tribal Sessions! I don’t have plans to visit Sankeys in the near future. My next event is Desolat at Fabric on 15.11.14 (https://world.timeout.com/events/fabric-15-11-w-desolat-marcel-fengler-kink-live) where I will be posting review of that event. Fabric is so far my favourite UK venue so it should be a good night!
Image credcit: Essential Ibiza