One big boat and loads of beats: 30 must-dos at BLOC Weekend

Carrying more than a little weight of expectancy one of the most eagerly anticipated events in the UK’s current electronic music calendar gets underway next Friday. From communist relics to composers, techno bastions to broken riddim stalwarts there’s plenty going on, so fingers crossed it will be going off too.

Reservations about the lack of residential options to one side then, and the mourning period for the festival’s former (hilarious) home of Butlins, Minehead now over, it’s safe to say the world and his dog, or at least a good few thousand revellers are rather excited about BLOC Weekend, which takes over London’s Pleasure Gardens on Friday July 6th and Saturday July 7th. The first time the session has come to the capital, it’s also something of an opening ceremony for this new, expansive, post-industrial piece of old dockland that has been transformed into an enormous venue by the crew behind Glastonbury’s Shangri-La.

One highlight will surely be Urs ‘Blo’ Blaser’s 2,500 tonne Motorschiff Stubnitz; an old East German ship the eccentric chap has turned into a travelling soundsystem and party vessel (check out The Guardian‘s piece on ‘The boat that became a nightclub’ here). That said, the lineup is equally enormous, and as such the list of must-sees is nothing short of monumental. Still, at least there won’t be the eternal distraction of chalet parties and bowling as in previous editions, ensuring we’ll spend most of our time listening to music, which can only be a good thing. Tickets are still available here if you haven’t yet invested, and for those that have our recommendations are below…


 30 things you must do at BLOC Weekend 2012

#30. Snoop Dogg-  The smoothest sounding voice in West Coast flavas takes to the stage. Needless to say, we’re hoping things are a bit more What’s My Name? than Sweat, but it should be an experience finding out whether that’s the case or not. 

#29. Battles- This Californian troupe’s debut album, Mirrored, remains one of the best crossover releases in the last few years, with the focus on guitars, drums and synths. Second outing Gloss Drop wasn’t quite so groundbreaking, though their live show should be worth the effort. 

#27. Oneman- With his FabricLive mix coming a week after he plays BLOC the Rinse FM resident and 502 label head will be looking to impress. Revered for mixing skills and track selection, if you’re after high energy bass then here it is.

#26. Addison Groove- Fuk Tha’ 101 and all that, there are few sounds filthier than Headhunter when he dons the AG moniker to drop some of those ghetto-style, booty shakin’ beats. Some call it juke but a bit slower, we just say it’s great.

#25. DOOM- Accusations of student hip-hop aside there’s little to deny the cult MC has wit, an individual style, and a back catalogue of tracks boasting some truly remarkable work, meaning his show at BLOC shouldn’t be missed unless it really can’t be helped. 

#24. Ceefax Acid Waltzers- After hosting more than amusing karaoke events at previous BLOC weekends head of Waltzer imprint Andy Jenkinson is back, alongside Ray Keith, Nathan Fake, Ed DMX, and a few other faces to offer raving on a fairground ride; essential. 

#23. Will Saul- With Aus Music still an offbeat, deep electronic success story, and Simple Records recently revitalised, the man behind both imprints remains one to watch. Here’s your chance.

#22. Nicolas Jaar- Selling out dates worldwide this house protege is one of the only unique sounding young producers in the genre right now, not to mention a real musician and definite must-see. 

#21. Hyperdub- Being present for the whole showcase might be pushing it, given the stiff competition, but the imprint is represented by sets from bossman Kode 9, Cooly G, Hype WilliamsScratcha DVA, and Terror Danjah, all of which should be good.  

#20. RadioNasty- Billy Nasty and Radioactiveman‘s project was welcomed by all and sundry when the inaugural EP dropped on Craig Richards‘ new label- read our review here. As such getting the project into a club setting is always going to be enjoyable. Expect electro-fuelled techno, or vice versa. 

#19. L-Vis 1990 B2B Bok Bok- The two Night Slugs bossmen represent some of the biggest names in the nu-school, known for something in between ghetto-tech, footwork, and B-more. If that means nothing then we’re talking about nasty basslines and heavy beats. 

#18. Ben Sims- The Plain & Simple favourite remains one of the most exciting British DJs to watch thanks to his energetic and compelling turntable ethic, not to mention that solid techno, perfect for some heads down dancing on the right side of main room. 

#17. Get lost for a little bit- These Pleasure Gardens are promising a lot, what with “a 30m geodesic dome” and Glastonbury’s Hub stage installed on site, that imposing old factory tower, and the promise of numerous installations, projections, and visual treats. Let’s just hope there’s somewhere to sit down too. 

#16. Scuba- Hot Flush honcho, and the man behind that blistering Personality LP from earlier this year always brings the tunes, and given the February album’s nod to nostalgic, hardcore-esque breakbeats his set should be fitting for peak time. 

#15. Richie Hawtin- Making his first appearance at BLOC the M_nus bossman and world-dominating techno aficionado will hopefully perform on the night, with the fact this represents an intimate date compared to stadium and arena tours boding well for the outcome. 

#14. Martyn- The Dutchman continues to fly because his music is universally appealing. Best described as ‘dance’, everyone from breakbeaters to deep house heads wait on the post-dubstep hero’s every release, and his DJ work on the dancefloor is equally deft. 

#13. A.T.O.L.- The idea of Marcel DettmannModeselektor, and Shed, all together in one four piece techno outfit sounds pretty appealing. That’s exactly what A.T.O.L. is, meaning we’re all in for a right treat.

#12. Plex and Perc Trax- Names like Surgeon, Monolake, Perc, Cosmin TRG, and Objekt are synonymous with heavy techno, so if you’re up for some of that this soundsystem is one of your best options. 

#11. Carl Craig’s 69- After rave reviews from the small number of dates that have hosted his showcase already the live set from one of Detroit’s finest has quite the reputation, making it worth a punt for sure.

#10. Ellen Allien- BPitch Control‘s leading lady doesn’t come to play often, but whenever she does it’s always pretty special. Darkroom, unpredictable but engrossing house music, and strange otherworldly techno barely scratching the surface.

#9. Flying Lotus- The LA electronic star will be in full effect at BLOC, meaning his mildly euphoric, glitchy, off-kilter soundscapes that marry home listening and club fare are an essential on the agenda. 

#8. Four Tet- Anyone who attended BLOC’s final bash at Butlins last year will know Four Tet‘s warm, layered and deeply engrossing headline set on Saturday night was one of the best from the whole weekend. Someone ring the bell then, it’s time for round two. 

#7. Ricardo Villalobos- The minimal wave might have broken, but few four four fans would deny the Latin king of stripped beats is more than alive and well, with his lengthy sets the thing of global club folklore. As such let’s hope he’s on for a decent amount of time.

#6. Amon Tobin: ISAM Live- One of the most genuinely interesting men currently working in electronic music brings his lauded 3D live spectacular to join this year’s headliners. Be prepared for plenty of visuals, regardless of what’s been consumed. 

#5. Squarepusher- The man, the legend. If one thing’s guaranteed about this show it’s that you’ll have to get down early to beat the rush, other than that it’s really one of the few things at BLOC that’s bound to be genuinely surprising. 

#4. Steve Reich- Watching a composer at a festival might seem weird, then you realise it’s Steve Reich. Here accompanied by members of New York-based instrumentalists Bang On A Can All Stars, this will be equal parts education and entertainment as one of the most influential names in club music enters the house. 

#3. Gary Numan- Very few words can describe Numan’s output; a dark, rocky, electronic oeuvre. After decades making everything from punk to synth pop the list of phenomenal tracks goes far beyond Cars and Friends Electric, but those are great tunes nonetheless.

#2. Get on that boat- An industrial seaworthy monster that remembers life behind the Iron Curtain- really, what more do we need to say? 

#1. Not lose anything- Train tickets, cars, house keys and hotel address details, along with any other ‘essential valuables’, should be put somewhere safe that can be easily remembered.