Rusko is the highlight of BLOC's opening night

BLOC weekend 2009 reviews

published: Thu 19th Mar 2009

Rusko

Friday 13th to Sunday 15th March 2009
Butlins Resort, Minehead, Somerset, TA24 5SH, England MAP
£125 per person - SOLD OUT
daily capacity: 5000
last updated: Wed 11th Mar 2009

Hopping off the train in Taunton and skipping onto the Butlins shuttle bus, the anticipation for the third and biggest BLOC Weekend was soothed only by the beautiful green fields rolling out from either side of me, and the low hanging sun picking out the exquisite design of the abandoned steam locomotives on the West Somerset Rail's terminus. Dreary, mundane and monochromatic Manchester was far behind and the sea engulfed the horizon while we drove through the quaint little town of Minehead and into its main tourist attraction: Butlins Minehead Resort.

We had arrived. And after an unexpectedly smooth press check in we headed over to our chalet on the enviable street Promenade Grove in the happening little village of Ocean Point, realising as soon as we closed the door behind us that we had made a huge mistake. Assuming wrongly that we would have a kitchen to cook in (as many of the rooms do) all of our microwaveable and boil-in-the-bag goods, basically what we were intending to live off, were rendered useless in their now impenetrable solid form.

There was a kettle, though, so we were reduced to crumbling super noodles into mugs and eating them still swimming in water. It seems even when you have your own private room you can't escape the impoverished festival lifestyle. Questionable eating habits aside, the rooms were perfectly adequate, even fitted with a TV set so we could watch comic relief while guiltily enjoying our expensive holiday.

Finally, we headed for the big white tent that was the arena and into the Red stage which on this Friday night was home to the 'Dublime' collective. Our first musical experience of Bloc 09 was a DJ set by Coki, known better as one half of the dubstep duo Digital Mystikz, and co founder of the DMZ record label/night. It was a memorable beginning, drawing from a variety of different styles within the dub family, ranging from the pleasant sing a long charm of Tes la Rok's remix of Uncle Sam's 'Round the World Girls', to the verging on the unpleasant wobbles and sirens of Reso's 'If You Can't Beat Them'. Throw in a few classics like Benga's '26 Basslines' and you have a set that pleases both the bass obsessed vinyl junkie as well as the casual myspace-browsing newcomer.

Despite the fact I was running on a cup of soggy noodles I felt buoyed by Coki's set and excited to see what else Bloc had to offer. We decided to try the Tec stage next. Walking through the neon circus of arcade machines, air hockey tables and the childrens wacky ware house style maze of squishiness that constituted the main entertainment area was a surreal experience to say the least.

2562
2562, though another dubstep set, was extremely different to Coki's. Less about picking great dance tunes the music was a lot more focused on the sound, each song a collection of finely crafted clicks and chimes with a deep thundering bass that brought the Funktion One speakers to life. Obviously this meant that the atmosphere was a lot more subdued in this room and for me it was a little early for such seriousness, but the quality of the expertly mixed music cannot be denied.

Witching hour was over and the headliners were about to emerge across the stages so, what with it being their first show in ten years, I thought The Future Sound of London would be a source of psychedelic wizardry to a legendary standard. After discovering prior to coming to BLOC that the group never actually show up to their shows and merely hook up a live feed to their studio in London I had hoped that this would not be the case here. Unfortunately it was.

The huge centre stage was taken up by nearly as huge projector screens showing a fisheye of the duo hunched over their equipment. It was like watching most electronic artists but less interesting. This was spliced with some fairly typical psychedelic swirls and patterns and after twenty minutes of not much happening visually or audibly I decided to bail. FSOL are the group who said "Hey, let's play our shows this way" and every other artist in the world looked at them and said "err... no." The most entertaining aspect of this show was looking at the furious faces of the photographers storming out of the photography pit no doubt with a couple of poorly angled shots of media-player standard visualisations.

Rusko
Much more deserving of attention was Rusko who, having whipped up a big following from performing DJ sets with his Sub Soldiers partner Caspa at the likes of London's Fabric nightclub, was twenty minutes into his debut live set. Entering the Red stage for the second time tonight we were welcomed with Rusko's 'Cockney Thug' - only with the rolling bass at double its usual speed – and a sea skanking and bouncing that smothered any guilt we had about walking out on a 90's legend; confirming that this was the place to be. He played a lively set of his characteristic dubstep-on-blue-smarties with an exuberance of energy that really rubbed off on the crowd, and what's more, the bass (being the salient feature of this kind of dance music) was in large played by the man himself with a bass guitar hanging precariously from his skinny shoulders while he hopped around on stage accordingly.

After a trip back to the chalet for a few drinks we came back out to see what was left of the party. Most of the stages were closing at this point but the Jac stage was still absolutely packed with people drinking and whatever else-ing their body clocks into submission. This stage would be open till nine o'clock so no matter how hard you tried you couldn't be cool enough to outlast the bar. At the wrong side of six o'clock we hit our much appreciated beds. After all we had water slides to attend to the next day.
review by: Robert Knowles

photos by: Bryn Russell

Friday 13th to Sunday 15th March 2009
Butlins Resort, Minehead, Somerset, TA24 5SH, England MAP
£125 per person - SOLD OUT
daily capacity: 5000
last updated: Wed 11th Mar 2009


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