Now, during the low-season Butlins opens its doors to an entirely different crowd. Fans of the electronic music trade are ushered through the gates, trading The Mighty Wurlitzer for mighty synths, and the nuclear family for musically aligned friends.
A locational gamble taken by Bloc’s organisers in 2012 ended in a well-documented calamity. This year, Minehead functioned as the perfect playground. A canvas on which every element of the Bloc spirit was exceptionally well-executed. Sound levels being the best example (a bonus of having a festival inside means that it avoids the sclerotic noise restrictions that plague almost all other UK festivals).
In the case of other holiday park festivals, there is often an unsettlingly dichotomy between the energy of the night and the lethargic daytime. However, at Bloc the high spirits were sustained. Held together by a strong sense of community, if Butlins in daylight ever got too much, the party was always carried on back at the chalets.
Bloc T.V. may well lead you to question your morality, and rightly so. The channel demands debauched attention and sensory participation, adding to the lunacy of self-inflicted cabin fever. When the time has come to leave the cabins and feed some substance into your system unfortunately, the food outlets the location had to offer weren’t much to talk about and the cinema screen and deck chairs merging in the main arena where frankly pointless, however criticism of food and areas to relax come somewhat with the territory.
Bloc's weekend roster combined established greats from the Ostgut Ton label with the pioneers of techno’s second generation such as Carl Craig. However, it was Blawan & Pariah (Karenn) on Friday night who demonstrated the most arresting performance all weekend, fully living up to their boiler room set earlier in december. Inheriting the stage directly from Objekt, an ominously heavy tone was set for the young duo to play off, and they succeeded. Robert Hood was billed to play directly next but stood in for an unwell Jackmaster at the centre stage, a trade which was worth while leaving the audience void of any disappointment.
Saturday forced many partiers to do a juggling act between two stages; first catching the super tight Ben Sims b2b with DVS1 then hopscotching over to the main arena to catch Jeff Mills play another near flawless performance.
Ditching any attempt at a well balanced review on Sunday I firmly(ish) rooted my feet at the centre stage once more and submerged myself into the inner German that most attendees were more than willing to channel for the weekend, Ostgut Ton were as uncompromising as ever with Dettman and Klock finishing the festival out to the monumental LFO Versus F.U.S.E - Loop.
It’s important to see Bloc as a reassertion on the festival scene. Artistry, sound and community come first at Bloc. Three things that are refreshing to see in the wake of generic festivals where the primary focus appears to be that of ‘installations’, piss-poor house music and relentless excretions of glitter.
Illustration - Mike Stout