I’ve got no words and yet all the words for Bloc Weekender (the final rave!) – Myself and my fellow beat-lovers are gutted it’s over but, holy shit, what a way to go out! Skiffin’ past the giant creepy clown face on arrival at Butlins, getting rid of any existence of the outside world before the respectable debauchery commences, the absolute belting hilarity as well as the unreal music and production factor of the whole weekend – from start to finish it was just a whole world of surreal scenes, music-loving machines and outright randomness in all it’s shapes and forms.
It started with high-fivin’ Ben Klock as he trotted round the Butlins resort looking for a Pizza Hut! SO random. A tidy welcome from Bloc right there! With 10 years under their bulging techno belt, Bloc has always stamped it’s feet firmly into the music globe for it’s specific electronic music focus and energy and unique, sometimes ingeniously bizarre music events, it was a sad, SAD day when just before Bloc Weekender 2016, they announced that the end was near. “What is this Bloc talk I hear?” I asked myself. This was to be the last ever Bloc Weekender. In the words of Bloc – it was time to say goodbye to the “strange, beautiful things” that are weekenders… Better make this a good one then eh?!
Friday night was a tight one for me getting there so late on – it was some journey to Minehead from where I was on Planet Funk beforehand!! So after my quick tap-of-the-hand with Ben Klock I hit up the Crack stage for some Sunil Sharpe‘s warm-up beats and then Centre stage for the tail-end of Trade ft Surgeon and Blawan – a dual header of epic proportions. A cushty start to the Friday night delight ahead. We chanced upon one of my main men of the moment, Speedy J, who I was hoping to see tonight. My Dutch favourite never fails to give me that pounding techno I thrive on, so my prayers were answered when I made it for his whole set. The Center stage had me in it’s grasp for at least 4 hours and Ben Klock made a hefty entrance when it was his reign of the decks, but there was a mega 7 stages and I hadn’t even explored yet! On the FACT stage Andy Weatherall toyed with the Optimo boys with their b2b2b session – wee Andrew Weatherall – the veteran of dance music with his baggy trousers and tache’ combo playing the most heavy sounds I’ve heard come from him, ever. What an honour that was!
The hilarious Bloccers (I’m gonna call them that cos they were more than just a crowd – we were all in it together, each and every person full of beans the whole weekend!) were a bundle of joy and I loved it because our specific taste in music was what brought us together for this weekend in the family holiday retreat on the usually quaint coast of Minehead. This our techno retreat now. This Butlins holiday resort we were in – a playground for party people for this weekend only – wandering through the amusements was pure entertainment in itself! Like somethin from an old, oddball comic strip.
Shout outs to the one guy who won so many tickets on the that he couldn’t even pick them up (his face of utter disbelief will remain in my memory forever), the group of about 26 dudes on the foozball machine going absolutely rockers for this game with the tiny plastic football that was the only thing that mattered in their lives at this point and the 2 pals on the ‘kill the animals’ video game havin a full-blown barmy with the cartoon animals on the screen hahaha! At the point of raking through the absolute mindfuck of a maze tryin to find our chalet (rows and rows of them exactly the same), it every single time ended up in finding a random chalet party as a bonus replacement to your own. Happy with that! A strange little place filled with strange little people for the time being. And world-class beats in every corner of the place!
Day 2 brought some of the most mind-blowing sets of the whole weekend. The Egyptian Lovers pool party in the daytime – think hard hats for health and safety on the water slides (literally!) and splashin around to Space Dimension Controller and Egyptian Lover. Delusional mobs of ravers hoarded the chalet site who had hit it too hard the night before. Helena Hauff was a massive highlight kickin’ off my night in the Crack stage and then utterly captivating performances by Holly Herndon with her incredible visual production, on-stage vocalists and live soundscapes and abstract cut-up beats, followed by the experimental sounds of Thom Yorke ft Tomorrow’s – Modern Boxes with his fellow dancer before I parked my wee dancin’ feet firmly in the Dystopian takeover for the most part of the night… Alex.Do, O phase, VRIL and Rødhåd ALL delivered hypnotic sets with their Dystopian sounds from the darkest corners of techno in the Carhartt stage (probably my fave stage of Bloc 2016).
I’m lucky I got myself in there on time cos’ due to some sort of rubbish organisation there ended up a massive queue to get into the Dystopian takeover and it was goin nowhere fast!! In fact this happened a few times to the stages I wanted to be in which was the only rant I’m gonna have about Bloc! Oh and one more… the sound system could’ve been heavier – but that’s just me being a self-confessed bass junkie!
Back to the Crack stage and being a GIGANTIC lover of all things Acid, Ceephax Acid Crew was the most body-rattling set for me of the weekend. An electrifying blend of acid techno and as if that wasn’t enough, half an hour in he proudly declared to the Bloccers “this is the last dance of the night – let’s go fucking crazy” and cranked everything right up to what was a beltin’, unreal set that blew my absolute mind! It turned into a scene from one of those bonus levels of Super Mario on speed! Unbelievable! Loved every second!
It’s always a bit more subdued on the last day of a festival. A few less people around, more Bloccers who have crashed and burned or get back involved later on in the night, no Crack stage, that sorta thing. Daytime fun on Sunday was yet another pool party, and a snooker tournament that ended up with Sunil Sharpe against Steve Davis (and losing obvz) and of course endless amusements! There was artists kickin’ around with regular punters… Marcus Intalex at the I Love Acid showcase and Four Tet on a food hunt in the restaurant area. Easy going vibes as the last day and night set in…
I LOVE ACID in the Jak stage – my most anticipated takeover of the whole weekend… Jerome Hill, Radioactive Man and Altern8 one after the other. Like being catapulted back to a true 90s rave. Not so much the surroundings of course, but the music. Altern8 devoted their time to a pure old skool acid set in which every single track was an old favourite – life changing! The Bloccers in the I Love Acid stage were on top form and it was a full peltin’ hands in the air affair! I found it really hard to see anything after my Altern8 experience but as usual, bein the last one dancin’, the very last set of the festival, Omar S had a Detroit techno masterclass waiting for me… The bass rattled our feet from the room below where Goldie played a DnB set, while Omar played a sultry and wildy unique set full of surprise and progressing up to the heftier old 90s techno tracks like Clementine’s ‘Head Nodder’ and Mike Dearborn ‘Birds on E’. People at the end all fists in the air singing “OMAR IS GOD” really proved that he was the best way out for Bloc 2016…
There was so much good music as well as nonsense over the weekend, sometimes at the same time as each other but I don’t think it would be easy to be dissatisfied with what you did manage to see and hear. Bloc’ll surely venture out again in another peculiar, statement, type event in the future but for now the big guys’ve said the focus is gonna be on the London club and evolving into a super-club. I’ve chuckled to myself through this whole write-up and I wish I could do it just one more time but memories will remain glowy… And following the last ten years, the future of Bloc must be an interesting one!