Anyone who has spent much time in Manchester over the last five years may have noticed a couple of things. First, the sound of the city, once a renowned house and techno stronghold, is changing, with punters and promoters increasingly favouring funky, dubstep and glitch. Second, there's a lack of well-designed venues that embrace the spirit of the heads down, gritty parties that originally made it such a stronghold.
Once a musical instrument and DJ gear shop, Sound Control seeks to change that. It's a new multi-floor space consisting of a purpose built club, live venue and bar. The fourth new nocturnal establishment to open doors on the city's clubbing populous in the last few months, it fits the bill better than most. From the smoking area of Victorian stone steps, the lack of lighting and the significant drop to the riverside below, to the dug-out dance floor and raised platform directly in front of the decks, one phrase summarises the place: No frills, proper party.
It's a space that crucially allows the dance floor to get in the DJs face, hassle them for record names and generally get involved. A place where health and safety has not defined design. A half decent (or should that be dirty?) venue specifically built for underground electronic music in Manchester.
Photo credit: Sam Hull & Rhi Hollings
The night itself was what many of the mid-20s-ish attendees appeared to have been looking for. Zutekh's first event after moving things to the city from South Manchester's obscure party hotspot Saki, a Turkish cafe on the fringe of the famous Curry Mile, was all about solid beats of the repetitive, jump in-jump out kind. The technically talented, musically grounded Andro and Dimit provided some layered and understated synth laden house-leaning techno, but it could be argued their sound wasn't as compelling on the dance floor as it could have been with extra bite. That said, the warm up is an oft forgotten art in Manchester, so respect for respecting.
Headliner Terry Francis opened with the kind of fat London bass-heavy groovers once so common on the soundsytems of the UK, and made sure he ended in similarly commanding fashion. Wiggle-esque warm shufflers, the occasional collapse into atmospheric house breaks and suggestions of toughness played out in between, with the odd beat stretch, subtle sample and crafty drop thrown in for good measure. It was a welcome return to what a Friday of four-fours can be about in Manchester. It wasn't techno, it wasn't house, but it sounded damn good loud and it went on all night.