Manchester’s APE just hit double figures, celebrating a decade of chaotic all-star parties at its long-term residency the Warehouse Project. With ten sets of burnt out candles we have seen an unruly character mature out of these club nights. Amongst this year’s fray was drum and bass legend Shy FX, self-proclaimed microphone champion Skepta, and making the trip across the pond came stateside headliners Run the Jewels.
Shy FX kick things off with a shelling of tracks from Diary of a Digital Soundboy and for a while the selector creates an atmosphere worthy of circa 2005. The veteran tours through drum and bass landmarks from the likes of Hazard, Bassface, Sascha and Original Sin, threading together a tight set with the finest selections of jungle. And then, instead of utilising his set to showcase the genre he built his name off, Shy starts playing grime and the set falls apart. Yet in what seems like homage to our American guests, Shy FX brings his set to a close with Kendrick Lamar’s Alright, turning the heads of the Run the Jewels cult that lurk at the back of the venue.
Run the Jewels - one of the most cohesive hip-hop dues active today - take over and a flood of fans draped in merchandise gush towards the front of room one. Their anti-materialistic directive has granted them a devout following and the adoring bellows of their fans greeted them as they took stage. They clearly love to perform; laughing and joking, they don’t take themselves too seriously, portraying an extremely likeable personality through their music. Yet, as is often the case with hip-hop in a cavernous club, you simply could not hear the lyrics and much of the politically charged content flew over Manchester’s heads. However, El-P’s pounding productions proved articulate enough to render the show a success.
Skepta follows having been allocated a mere thirty-minute slot on the bill and there is no hesitation to express his distaste for it. It is common knowledge Skepta is looking to breach grime into the USA after collaborations with Americans have cropped up throughout 2015 and perhaps somebody was trying to fulfil a vision by forcing introductions with Run the Jewels? Nonetheless, Skepta makes his views on certain stateside cultures very clear with ‘Ace Hood Flow.’ Joined on stage by Shorty, the set is imbued by anger directed at the set times and crowds over flow throughout the venue to witness the king of grime. It has become clear that time after time Skepta delivers an unparalleled energy as he commandeers grime in a profoundly promising direction.
APE is more or less like attending a grand scale house party; the line up was a characterful and disorderly mash. With all sorts tossed into the blender the promoters had concocted a puree of anything they deemed heavy enough. But it wins no prizes for organisation; the perpetually fluctuating set times baffled a fair few of their guests - but that is part of the charm right? And we all love charm. After all, it was their birthday and this was their party. But there was an undeniable feeling that we were merely a thinly spread spattering of strawberry conserve to APE’s colossal birthday sponge.
Words: Charlie Fyfe