Last weekend saw the long-awaited return of the UK’s biggest indoor techno party; XXL. Boasting yet another extra extra large lineup, the Manchester-based brand curated a colossal billing of the genre’s most in-demand and respected artists all under one roof for 12 hours of non-stop raving paradise.
The joint venture between two Manchester based promoters Teletech and The Warehouse Project has proved to be a national success. With further stints around the UK such as E1 London the night before, Motion Bristol early next month and a New Years Day special planned in Glasgow, it’s fair to say there’s no stopping this party.
There’s no bigger show on the XXL calendar than the annual stint at their spiritual home of Mayfield Depot. This year upped the ante even further, with the introduction of Star & Garter adding an additional two rooms on top of the 3 cavernous spaces already on offer. With the leading names in their respective genres providing the soundtrack to the event, there was an endless list of hair-raising and mouth-dropping moments which left the crowds in awe. Here’s just five of our favourite tunes heard on the night.
5 stand out tracks
Yeah Yeah Yeahs x A-Trak – Heads Will Roll (Paracek’s Rave Edit)
Played by: Anetha
Easily one of the highlights of the night. This one took the entire Depot by surprise. With teases of the original tune’s iconic strings in the early moments, only the most tuned of ears among the crowd might have picked up on it initially. But oh boy, when the full melody came in – the whole place erupted.
Christian Cambas – The Outsiders (T78 Remix) (Azyr Edit)
Played by: AnD and Amelie Lens
This tune has been doing damage across the globe in the last few months, being the weapon of choice for many of the industry’s top names again and again. Played by AnD and Amelie Lens on the night and hitting just as hard both times, this supercharged edit by the fast-rising sensation Azyr simply had to be in our top 5 tracks.
Jacidorex – Two Minded
Played by: 999999999
You know those tunes which leave you turning to your mate, mind completely blown, no words you just stare at each other with a bass face? Yeah this is one of them. An absolute face-melter from Jacidorex on 999999999’s label NineTimesNine had the walls in the Concourse shaking. Paired with the room’s enthralling production, this was just what we needed for a second wind as we moved further into the night.
ID – ID
Played by: Shlømo b2b Hadone
In what was an epic final b2b set from Shlømo and Hadone, as they announced the end of Viper Diva earlier this year, it was hard to pick just one tune from this bittersweet performance. That said, the shrieking synths and laser inspired melody, paired with a brutal, thumping techno beat took the Archive by storm. Check out Shlømo’s fist pumping and the mind-bending visuals in the video below – the VJ in the archive was wild. We hope that they’ll return as a duo at some point in the future.
Mental Crush – Acid Destroy
Played by: Klangkuenstler
German hard techno producer Klangkuenstler is renowned for his heavy-hitting sets, summoning some of the most brutal beats techno has to offer. Closing the Concourse with a 90min set, he conquered the room in spectacular style. But it was this particular tune that had the crowd erupt in cheers when the acid line first came in – which you may recognise from the Blood Rave scene in the 1998 film Blade. This 2014 version adds monstrous techno drums, and you can see by the crowd’s reaction how much they enjoyed it.
XXL has become the UK’s techno behemoth, bringing together the titans of hard techno under one roof. With incredible production, it truly is a fully immersive experience. From the entrancing lighting rig and giant circular screens in the Concourse projecting trippy faces, to the VJ displaying outright crazy visuals in the Archive and live dancers performing on a netted installation in the Depot. Your eyes (and ears!) were constantly titillated, adding to the theatre which is XXL.
It’s no surprise then, that it instantly sold out and while the addition of the Star and Garter added a new dynamic, the classic wooden pub as featured in the Channel 4 show Fresh Meat may be better suited to other genres.
With the addition of Star & Garter and a larger outdoor smoking area connecting the two venues, this meant that there was a noticeable increase in the number of ravers attending. However, with the majority of the crowd wanting to be in the 3 main rooms, people weren’t evenly distributed, making moving between the Depot, Archive and Concourse a bit of a battle. At times, Archive even hit capacity meaning some fans were not able to see the likes of Trym and Brutalismus 3000.
With such a huge lineup of top names, it can be difficult to anticipate where the masses will congregate. Next year, we’d love to see the capacity return to 2021’s level to help make each room more accessible throughout the event.
Overall, we were enamoured with all the sets we saw; the sound was pumping, the energy infectious, and the dancing unceasing. With XXL being such a large scale show, it’s always exciting to see what weapons each DJ will be bringing for their sets, and they did not disappoint this year. Bring on the next one!
Words: Ben Lovejoy & Eliot Harris