Beats, Butlins and a Bloc Weekender

Now the dust has settled and having had time to reflect on the bloc weekender, I can try to somehow put into words the carnage of the weekend events. Having previously attended Bloc in Minehead in 2011, the standards set were high to say the least. 2011 superseded any of my expectations, covering all the key fundamental factors which encompass a great festival and in doing so setting a milestone for future festivals to be based against.

I cannot write this review without reference to the debacle that was 2012. Much to the shock and dismay on hearing that Bloc would be relocated to London, I along with many others were skeptical to say the least. Sadly in the end our doubts on this were proved right. I am of the old school mind-set that if it ain’t broke don’t fix it. Well the powers that be obviously did not concur with this belief and what unfolded in the Pleasure Gardens in 2012 left a bitter taste in many revelers mouth. Bloc went from building a reputable brand over several years throwing fantastic parties to a tainted one in a matter hours.

Slowly however the brand began to return to its roots, hosting one off nights in an attempt to re-deem its severely damaged reputation. Then out of nowhere it was announced Bloc was returning to Butlins in March 2015. This caused quite a stir and I can remember vividly texting mates who had previously been, to spread the word and more importantly to state, that this was not to be missed. Personally the events of 2012 had no effect on my decision and was a no brainer for me. We booked up and eagerly sat and waited for the rolling out of various artists playing to begin.

This year several acts would play on the Thursday night, with Truss headlining the night. We made the decision to travel down on early on Friday and try to beat the infamous London traffic. Initially we failed miserably but eventually we left the sunny London capital for the South West. As we made the journey down, the weather began to deteriorate but the beauty about this venue (Butlins) is weather does not have an impact like at a regular green field festival. The luxury of having apartments and indoor arenas, means the requirement for such items like wellies and other outdoor gear are not required. Raving in luxury one could say.

Once we arrived and settled, it was time to head in. The layout was fun and zany with arcades machines and a man made artificial green area to chill out on deck chairs should one need a timeout. To be honest, it’s a surreal experience but very much a fun one. We began proceedings in the Fact arena with Donato Dozzy an Italian DJ who was serving a brand of techno which was different from what I would usually listen to. A hypnotic and almost distorted style in some respects.

We then moved into the Red arena which was hosted by Hessle Audio. Here Ben UFO, Person Sound and Pangea did an extend and eclectic set for several hours before heading back into the Fact arena to see some straight up Techno from London’s very own Randomer. This built the atmosphere nicely for the final DJ of the night Rodhad to take the decks. Now recognised as one of Berlins finest, he has made a massive impression on the scene in the last few years and has now become one of the most sought after DJs and producers around. Once in his groove the place was in full flow and he was churning out some rolling techno to close out the arena and the first night.

Saturday night started off with Levon Vincent. A DJ who has caught my eye over the last few months, most notably when he released his latest album as a free download albeit for 24 hours but a nice touch nevertheless. His set started at 8.30pm with a nice broody vibe, which I felt was spot on to get back into the swing of things for the night ahead

His set led me back into the Fact arena, which was been hosted by Plex. Then on came the act I had been waiting for, Scottish duo ‘Clouds’ who I have strongly followed throughout 2014. These Glaswegian lads are known for their no frills techno and have a back catalogue of stellar releases to back this up. One thing we did got a giggle off with the Scottish and Celtic jerseys which they donned. A refreshing break from the usual uber trendy all black clothed DJs we usually see. As expected they delivered with the highlight been “Born Slippy” something which caught me off guard but was well received.

This set things up perfectly to see another of the “must see acts” in Function / Inland. Some maybe more familiar with him (Function) as one half of Sandwell District. Tonight however and his label partner Ed Davenport (Inland) were on show. My view was not the best but seemed apparent Davenport could be seen to be more on the mixing side of things with Function adding his own flavour from a live aspect rinsing a 909 and other elements on the fly. As the night progressed, it was time for a brief time out before heading into Detroit legend Carl Craig to round up a very pleasurable Saturday night indeed. From various conversations with the always very friendly Bloc crowd, his name seemed to come up a lot as the favourite act of the weekend albeit a subjective topic and a tough decision due to so much quality on show over the weekend.

Now sadly into the last night, my plan for the night was simple. Get to the Centre Arena for the Ostgut Ton showcase. When we arrived Berghain and Panorama resident Ryan Elliot was in full flow. I heard him play both house and techno sets and its easy to see why his has attained a residency in Berlins legendary club. With the closing times being earlier than the rest of the nights sets had to be spot on and build the atmosphere appropriately for the next DJ to take the reins.

Answer Code Request was next to step up and is a live act a who caught my attention in 2014. I must say he did not disappoint and dropped one of the favourite tracks of last year – Thinner (Forward Strategy Group Remix) which was arguably the highlight of my weekend and went down a treat on the dance floor. Track after track he played, building up to almost boiling point and setting the stage perfectly for the two most revered DJs from Berlin to take over.

I have never seen Klock and Dettmann play back to back, so to say I was intrigued would be an understatement. I have seen both DJ as a separate entity, but never had the pleasure to see both together. As I think back on it now I can’t think of a better closing to a festival, having been to quite a few around the globe. The vibe, the crowd, the atmosphere, the music sat perfectly leaving each bleary eyed person with a smile of some sorts on their face.

All in all what can I say? It’s lived up to my expectations and the rest. The planning was spot on. Queing for long was never an issue, whether it was gain access into the arenas or the bar. I should also give mention to the price of alcohol, which was very reasonable indeed. Two double whiskeys and coke was the chosen meal for breakfast, lunch and dinner throughout the weekend came to the paltry sum of £10.50 if memory serves me correct. Add in the 24 hour Spar and the luxury of grabbing a few zzz’s in a bed and what more could you ask for. The events of 2012 will be a distant memory for everyone who attended it and it is safe to say Bloc is back and so I will I in 2016.