Ah, February. The new-year malaise has almost all but worn off, supermarket aisles everywhere are ambushed with love hearts et al, and to top things off it’s really, really cold outside.
Yet all is not lost, whether you’re single or not, February delivers an eclectic array of big gigs and secret sets across the city that ignites the electronic scene for the year to come.
Here are the top five taking place across Manchester this month, from lo-fi house to minimal tech, there is enough to lift near enough any fan from the depths of their wintertime hibernation and back out onto the circuit.
5. Feb 2 / Mall Grab at Gorilla
If you like: Ross from Friends, DJ Seinfeld, House
Off the back of his 4-track Ep How the Dogs Chill: Vol 1, Mall Grab continues his world tour with a stop in Manchester, playing Gorilla on the first Saturday of the month.
The 23-year-old Aussie – now an adopted Londoner – is the new (baby) face of the Lo-fi house scene. Propelled from his bedroom studio in Newcastle, New South Wales – Mall Grab emerged in 2016 with one of the most envious years in house music; particularly impressive coming from a newcomer.
His initial Sun Ra EP was built upon ambient 4/4 grooves and lively kicks, the type when paired with soulful vocal samples were quite sullen, yet still capable of filling a dancefloor.
Last year’s release – which included the tour’s namesake track Looking For Trouble, goes deeper into demonstrating the producer’s talents. The lead single, Liverpool Street in the Rain, gleams with all the credentials of an experienced beat maker, shimmering in between disco, house and soul.
However it’s the EP’s more assaulting sound that shapes Mall Grab’s latest show into a stomper of a party. The Australian tends towards heavy-laden drum patterns when headlining his own show, opting for rare hip hop samples instead of soulful hooks.
This one will be less ‘lazy cabana’ vibes of Mall Grab’s first releases, but certainly not one to be missed underneath the Deansgate Arches.
4. Feb 23 / Minuskool Present: Miller at The Bagel Shop
If you like: Kevin Cook, Rhadoo, Samuel Deep, Julian Alexander, cALLY
Minuskool’s launch party at The Bagel Shop kicks off in promising fashion with seasoned Ibiza head Danny Miller drafted in for a very special two-hour set.
Miller is the crème of the crop right now as far as underground dance music is concerned. Coming off the back of a killer 2018, the north-east native has several impressive releases to his name including two on his own ‘Real Gang’ Label.
His fidgety samples compliment warm drums and groovy melodies to complete an original sound that is making fast headway in the electronic scene – stints at Zoo Project Ibiza, Fabric London, Bret Amsterdam and DC10 reflect this in the past year alone.
After laying down his roots in Manchester for the winter months, Miller and his Real Gang family have been busy releasing their sophomore clothing drop.
Now, the attention turns back to the gang’s formidable sound with this being Miller’s first local date since the turn of the year; and there seems no better selector to christen the Minuskool sound system in what is one of the Northern Quarter’s quirkiest venues.
3. Feb 15 / Jungle at Manchester Academy
If you like: Mark Ronson, Jamie XX
In a 6-date UK run breaking up their continent-hopping world tour, London-based collective Jungle bring their electro neo-soul back to Manchester off the back of their long-awaited second album, For Ever.
Friends Tom MacFarland and Josh Lloyd-Watson had found it relatively easy to dodge the fame that their debut album brought them six years ago, focusing rather on the group’s faceless and interchangeable aesthetic through video and artwork.
The infectious elasticity of Jungle’s catchy disco-funk is what’s seen the seven-piece band play the biggest UK stages (Glastonbury & co) as well as the most renowned American Talk shows.
Off the back a 40-strong winter run through the US, Eastern Europe and Asia, the leading men can no longer rely on their oversized spitguards to protect their faces.
As their largely sold out home stretch confirms, Jungle are one of the hottest alternative bands in the country, and their live shows never fail to get even the most stubborn of attendees moving.
2. Feb 23 / Animal Crossing 008 – Rossko & Reiss
If you like: Enzo Siragusa, Archie Hamilton, tINI
Since its launch in May last year, Animal Crossing has become a go-to event for those craving exclusive beats and subversive locations.
Be it a retired film studio or a secret loft, curator Olli has a knack for unearthing the city’s best party-spots, and then putting the most cutting-edge DJ’s inside.
Animal Crossing 008 is no different. Following on from Romanian talent Arupa and Dutch heavyweights Ingi Visions, February 23 sees FUSE resident Rossko make the trip up from London to Manchester.
With a decade in the game, Rossko is one of the original vibers that sets the tone for any and everywhere he plays at – be it super clubs like Amnesia in Ibiza or more organic venues like 93 Feet East in the capital.
With his refreshing nature to never follow the crowd, expect rare tech grooves in what will be a memorable set – unmatched anywhere else in the city – and of course propped up by Amsterdam native Reiss in an off-beat, yet to be announced venue!
1. Feb 09 / You & Me Presents Apollonia at Hidden, DownTex Mill
If You like: Tania Vulcano, Seth Troxler, Cassy, Jamie Jones
The Hidden gang have attracted some top names to DownTex this past year, and the iconic French trio Apollonia slot right in at the top of that list.
Three friends who gained a name for themselves playing at Ibizan afterparties at the start of the decade; Shonky, Dan Ghenacia and Dyed Soundorom have become favourites across the globe on the underground circuit.
They will feel right at home filling the dark alleyways of the retired textile mill with their bottomless sound, falling deeper and deeper into a techno house masterclass as the hours fly by.
Ghenacia, a kingpin of the Paris underground scene, has held residencies at DC-10 in Ibiza, Batofar in Paris and Panorama Bar in Berlin.
With an ear for a killer track, he’s the man who released Jamie Jones’ first EP back in 2006. Dyed Soundorom was taken under Ghenacia’s wing in the 90’s, sometime after becoming hypnotised by the west-coast house sets that kept the Batofar ticking until the early hours.
Shonky, an ex-mathematician and dedicated Parisian clubber, was recognised as a natural talent before releasing his debut album on Ghenacia’s label Freak N’Chic in 2008. His legendary sound has since had every club worth its salt clambering after him.
Since debuting in 2012, Apollonia has become one of the industry’s most sought-after three-pieces. Operating a strict one record each policy, the Parisian pals will be back2back2back for a 5 hour set that will be as fresh and unheard as it is competitive.
See you there.