As the witching hour approached on 31st October, the streets of Greater Manchester were transformed into a cheap facsimile of Mexico’s Dia De Los Muertos. Revellers in PVC capes and faux-fangs downed applesourz and sung along to Ghost Town by The Specials. Tinnies were supped and romances consummated at spooky house-parties raging on in redbrick suburban houses. On TV sets across the city, Scott Mills was dressed as Fester, doing the foxtrot to the Addams Family theme-tune.
But for the lucky few crammed into Warehouse Project’s Room 1 as Dan Snaith’s synths ascended, there was a palpable sense that the best the city had to offer that night had little to do with pagan celebrations. Arms aloft and grin a’beaming, the Canadian appeared visibly delighted as he greeted the excited mass beneath his feet, a crowd more than happy to reflect him back. Everyone was in on it, and soon everyone was lost to it: Caribou delivered a tightly compact set which distilled the sonic subtleties of Our Love into a glowing atmosphere which engrossed band and crowd equally. The vibe was communal, warm, glowing, and rendered the austere surroundings of an abandoned warehouse into a fleeting oasis of musical colour, more living room than factory floor.
This isn’t to say the set was flawless. Snaith does not have the presence even of some of the lesser names on the bill. Carl Craig, who appeared for the 3 – 5 slot, exhibited an ability to pull the audience in and throw them back at his whim. Likewise, Four Tet cast a spell which was focused and controlled. Caribou’s set was less masterful, and even at times a little wobbly. As Snaith stretched up into the microphone his voice sometimes fell a little flat, stretched by the impetus to project. His soft tone is undoubtedly best utilised in the sumptuous intimacy of a soundless booth, a sentiment which was most clear during the repeated refrain ‘our love’. The same could be said of Jessy Lanza’s walk-on for Second Chance which, despite maintaining a steady momentum, did at times sag. This song, like her solo set delivered humbly from the corner of the stage, could have benefited from a more outwardly confident stage presence. Yet these examples of reticence were if anything endearing quirks, expressions of Snaith and Lanza’s humility, and not an enduring distraction from the overarching success of both performances.
It’s worth remembering that this was Caribou, not Daphni. The sound was omnidirectional, far less about a DJ playing to a crowd and more a sound filling a space. As the set wrapped up, with Sun reaching fever pitch and bursts of yellow light drenching the darkness, it was clear Snaith and his live band had fulfilled their quota with verve. As a defacto headline slot it was fulfilling and fantastical, leaving the room bound together in a communal heady glow, ready to delve into the heavier, darker sonic repertoire of the rest of the night.
The Warehouse Project continues - tickets available here.
Words : Francis Blagburn