First review: BLOC Weekend 2011

Festival celebrates five years in style

First review: BLOC Weekend 2011

Matt Cook on 14 March 2011

With more chalets filled than ever before, and tickets sold out well in advance, Bloc Weekend has established itself as one of the first, and best events to attend in the festival calendar, writes Matt Cook.

Celebrating its fifth year, organisers have had time to see what works and build on a reputation for bringing together electronic music's most cutting edge acts.

With accommodation included in the ticket price, and a host of shops and restaurants at the fan's disposal, the most difficult choice they'll will have to make is which of the five arenas of foundation shaking bass you go to next.

When the schedule for 2011 is finally unveiled, this turns out to be a much more difficult decision than anyone would like.

Friday sees Beardyman (8/10) display his beatbox-looping skills to the max, recreating a multitude of styles so convincingly that he can be forgiven for having to remind the crowd what they are actually listening to.

On another stage, Berlin's Modeselektor (10/10) has free reign for the entire night, selecting friends, label mates, and collaborators - like Moderat's Apparat (10/10) - to join them in testing the Red:Bloc sound system. Such is the quality and consistency of their back to back sets, that many people choose not leave the room at all.

This leaves headliners Magnetic Man (6/10) struggling to fill the Main Stage, with anyone wanting to find an alternative choosing the more innovative sets of Jamie XX (9/10) and Joy Orbison (8/10).

Most people converge to see LFO's Mark Bell (9/10) make his debut Bloc appearance, combining the fierce sound of tracks like 'Tied Up' and 'LFO' with strobing LED graphics to great effect.

With music from the likes of Shackleton and Claude Von Stroke taking Bloc right through the night, there really is a lot on offer on Friday night.

Saturday sees crowds pulled towards the Ableton Recursive Function Immersive Dome, with DJ sets from Luke Vibert (9/10) and Mark II (7/10) complimenting the 360 degree visuals perfectly, and a live tweaking acid set from Ceephax (8/10) in which he tries as hard as he can to break all his machines.

Moderat (10/10) takes to the Main Stage for apparently their last ever performance together, whilst King Midas Sound (9/10) show just how live vocals should be treated over dubstep beats.

All the anticipation on Saturday is for headliner Aphex Twin (9/10) whose slow build up is offset by some awesome face recognition exploiting visuals. Although not enough to impress everyone, people sticking with him are treated to a second half set that couldn't disappoint anyone.

Venetian Snares (8/10) sees out the end of another night of Overkill in Red:Bloc, leaving VF sadly falling short of enough stamina to see Speedy J close the Main Stage.

Sunday seems much more eclectic in comparison, with Matthew Dear's (8/10) deep and minimal sounds paving the way for Laurent Garnier to close what is undoubtedly another very successful Bloc Weekender.

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