Venue: Butlins Holiday Park, Minehead, Devon
Review by Kai_1
Photos by Angela Mazur aka Zwezd
The first two parties (2007/08) took place at the Pontins Holiday Park of Hemsby on the Norfolk cost. Both events sold out and at each ‘festival’ the 2,500 lucky punters were treated to an eclectic mix of artists ranging from the likes of Kool Keith, CJ Bolland and Luke Slater to Juan Atkins, Dave Clarke and Joey Beltram. There were three rooms of the finest in electronic music from across the world with global representation from the Detroit grand daddies of techno and electro as well as the cream of the crop of nu-wave dubstep and alternative producers and artists, resident here in the UK and beyond. Having outgrown the venue, 2009 saw the Bloc Weekend move across the country to a larger Butlins site in Minehead, Devon, which enabled the event to spread its wings and expand to five areas of music and showcase arguably its best line-up to date.
The opening Friday night played host to the Dublime arena, which many of the younger patrons seemed to descend upon, with a line-up which saw Digital Mystikz and Plastician progress through Rusko (performing his debut live set) to Kode 9, before giving way to the hotly anticipated clanking drum and bass of Ed Rush & Optical. The room was a low down dirty concoction of wobbly basslines and percussive loops supplied by masters of the art, with much body popping, smiles and whistles of appreciation from the crowd that inevitably and steadily grew as the night progressed.
Elsewhere, Bloc’s ‘centre’ stage was very much also the place to be, (a case of too many choices), and at 11pm DJ Qbert took to the stage and gave the gathering masses a master class in turntable wizardry. What followed was a rather bizarre concept, with Future Sound of London performing live via a video link, before Tipper shook the foundations to the core and provided certainly one of my highlights of the night –a sublime mix of warped bass and heavy electro breaks superbly blended and executed. Daniel Bell followed with a set of highly funk fuelled and quirky minimal techno, before Frequency 7 aka Ben Sims & Surgeon rounded off the opening night in style with one of the more banging techno sets of the weekend.
Elsewhere throughout the complex the beats continued well into the morning, but as well as the truly awesome line-up of music to get lost in Bloc comes up trumps with the fact that everyone has a moderately spacious and comfortable chalet to go back to and hang out with friends. The little things added here by the Bloc HQ really do take the event to the next level, most notably with the delight that is Bloc TV - a live portal into the arenas via video link as well as a sometimes truly bizarre collection of leftfield movies and video shorts to twist your mind or simply just chill out to.
Come Saturday it was round two, and as well as the luxury of a bed and a shower you get all the joys of a Butlins Holiday Park to help recuperate from the night before, (water park, fast food or the amusements anyone?), so there were no excuses for early Saturday nights.
The Dublime arena gave way to hosts Overkill, who supplied a superb mix of beats and breaks from Aussie tech-funk maestro Bass Clef and the ever amazing and often mind-boggling vocal trickery of Beardy Man, whilst the Centre Stage bared witness to the coming together of headliners Aphex Twin and Hecker, who caused gridlock for those trying to get in after the set had started. Warming up before the legendary duo we saw the Egyptian Lover and his ode/love affair to the ‘Eight O Mutha Fucking Eight’, who injected a fat amount of old school electro into the occasion, providing both the vocals and machine trickery required to whip the crowd into a hooting frenzy. With Green Velvet and Billy Nasty following Aphex, for the majority of people this was the place to be... and rightly so!
Elsewhere, those a little more curious were served delicious grooves from Colin Dale and the legend that is Robert Hood in the Tec-Bloc arena, and a truly awesome line-up in the Jak-Bloc room saw the likes of DJ Godfather and the Mysterious Mr O from Detroit give way to Luke’s Anger, Radioactive Man and Jerome Hill, all playing some of the most diverse and interesting music of the weekend – wonky techno, booty shaking electro bass, old skool hip hop... you name it, it was there!
Come Sunday and those still standing, (and partying hard), were treated to a mixture of artists and sounds which included more techno from Alexander Robotnick and Carl Craig, a rather unexpected commercially edged set from Afrika Bambaata, (taking in everything from Eminem to Salt & Pepa), more dubstep from Skream & Benga and old school hardcore from 2 Bad Mice and Altern 8.
Bloc 2009 really was a fantastic start to the party season and for those who know it, it’s a simple case of roll on March 2010 – and those that don’t really don’t know what they’re missing!