Exams are over. The jolly feeling of the festive season is melting away, and once again temperatures are plummeting. Deep into the most depressing of months and it’s time for a party with another chilly instalment of Winter Pangaea.
Tickets have been like gold dust for the past week, rarer than Wu Tang‘s latest album, with some fetching £60. Even Transmission tickets are reselling for a pittance as kids opt for a good night sleep rather than skankin out to Rodigan & Shy FX.
This time round the theme is Space Odyssey which is wonderfully appropriate considering the darkness setting in at 4pm each day and the bitter ice cold frost that’s plagued our rainy city recently. The SU is lit up like a shining beacon guiding spacemen/women, shining stars and galaxies in from the deep freeze of Oxford Road for a night of spacey antics.
Down in Club Academy, probably the best booked, yet under appreciated room, The Reflex had things grooving along nicely with some funk and disco flavours. Stevie Wonderland & Fever 105, much like So Flute four months earlier, did another stellar job cementing the musical quality of the space that historically played host to the AU sports nights.
Abandoning the fortress of funk & disco we joined the ever present stairwell congestion and headed up to Academy 2 for the much anticipated Manc local Andy Carthy, AKA Mr Scruff. Most people had a similar idea and after 10 minutes of queuing for two flights of stairs we eventually got into a heaving Academy 2. Mr Scruff, true to his experimental/unpredictable nature was laying down some hip hop heavy beats for the first half hour of his set, departing from his usual playful bass riffs, short snaps & snares. The word play of Scruff’s fave MC – MC Kwasi – once again backing up Mr Scruff’s ever diverse selections boosted the slightly disappointing tracks.
Tackling the bottlenecked stairs again we returned to the safe haven of Club Academy where Tiger & Woods were holding fort. That ever so famous organ of ‘Gypsy Woman’ reverberated through the heaving stairwell guiding us home to be greeted by the familiar “La da dee, la da da” of Crystal Waters. The kings of funk-sampling kept Club Academy grooving with hypnotically beautiful live disco edits.
2.30am came around bringing us along to Academy 1 where house/tech heavy weight Paul Woolford went head to head with yet another Manchester local, XXXY. Not a set to be missed, though before finishing up with the big room it was time for your humble narrator to explore the upper reaches of the SUs third floor.
Dodging the drum & bass of Rubadub, skirting through the crowd of Dub Phizix, the upper rooms greeted us with their usual mix of bizarre decoration, emptiness and interesting music selection. The Bowie Room dominating at this point blasting out Fat Boy Slim ‘Praise You’ to a room full of smiling space creatures who couldn’t help but boogie, whilst The Silent Disco held a good crowd as Fuse FM battled it out with Pan-Gay-A for the privilege of listeners ears.
Gravitating back towards Academy 1, the Spaceport pulled us in with the enchanting refrain and funky bass line of Gwen McCrae ‘Keep the Fire Burning’. Five minutes later and our disco desires satisfied we went in search of something a little darker.
The funk-influenced techno of Paul Woolford & XXXY had the remaining revellers shuffling into the daylight hours. Their set-up within a ring of brilliant white light combined with the enormous hanging planets transformed the room into a club majestically transported from the depths of deep space.
As always there were a few issues of concentrated masses in some areas, and sparsely populated rooms, though with 16 rooms and the complex lay out of the SU to contend with who can be surprised?
Another fantastic effort from the Pangaea team, the Dome tents were a great atmospheric addition playing host to the energetic eccentricities of brass band pioneers Riot Jazz. Whilst the intimate setting of the newly opened Secret Black Hole Party Room, occupying the ex-RBS building, provided yet another hidden gem of the ever growing festival.
We’ll be hoping for more of the same in Summer, when Pangaea returns for its final instalment of the year!
Manchester Academy & Students Union, 24th September