Critic Amar Desai gives his take on a slice of the action at this year's ValefestWritten by Music on 30th June 2015
Bloc (JUL 6-7)
To those seeking a diverse festival experience this summer, look no further than Bloc
To those seeking a diverse festival experience this summer, look no further than Bloc. Set in the stunning London Pleasure Gardens, a newly created cultural hotspot as part of London’s Olympic regeneration, the sixth Bloc weekender offers a superb line-up and unique venue that will have fans of electronic music drooling at the prospect of July 6th and 7th.
Headliners contain such diverse figures as electronic pioneers Orbital, techno magician Richie Hawtin and hip-hop demigod Snoop Dogg, from whom ‘Lodi Dodi’ is just one track to get excited about. Bloc have also captured the imagination with the inclusion of multi-genre Californian producer Flying Lotus, who’s eagerly anticipated follow-up album to the critically acclaimed Cosmogramma drops in June, just in time for Bloc. British talent is also well represented with the likes of Four Tet, James Blake and Hudson Mohawke all present and correct, while sets from Apparat and Art Department will add to the cosmopolitan feel of the festival.
But without sounding clichéd, this year’s Bloc is going to be about more than the music. The venue is bold and magnificent, with Bloc set by the water’s edge of Royal Victoria Docks, and given a backdrop of derelict post-industrial buildings that hark back to a 1960’s and 1970’s era in which the foundations for the British dance music scene were established.
The wackiness and eclecticism of the stages and arenas further endorse the Bloc experience, with this year seeing the installation of the MS Stubnitz, an ex-Communist deep-sea fishing vessel ready to host raves. The hull, bow and deck of the boat have all been converted to club spaces, and the highlight could be a back-to-back DJ set from Joy Orbison and Jackmaster as part of the Numbers vs. Swamp81 label showcase. Glastonbury’s famed Hub stage will also be a permanent feature of Bloc 2012, while arenas such as the fairground Waltzers and the circular-staged Carhartt Dome add character to a venue unique to British festivals this year.
The venue is geared towards visually stunning multi-dimensional experiences for the crowd, which will be provided by exclusive sets from the enigmatic Arpanet and perhaps Bloc’s biggest coup in Amon Tobin, who’s audio-visual ISAM project promises to light up the UNION stage on the Friday night.
So for partygoers looking for something a little different this summer, Bloc offers a brilliant £100 package, with its gates opening from 2pm until 6am on both Friday 6th and Saturday 7th July, although £55 day tickets are also available. With a line-up as diverse as it is spectacular, and a venue that will capture the imagination like no other, you’ll surely be rewarded for investing in a Bloc ticket before they sell out.