Festival Frolics: Bloc Weekend, Friday.

Four years ago in a decrepit holiday camp far, far away, Bloc Weekend was born. Now in its fifth year, the annual binge bash is still elevating hedonism to unchartered heights, and this year provided what was sure to be one of the greatest weekends in the fifty-two we're afforded. In amidst unfathomable rubber dinghy flumes and mini golf, Mary Anne Hobbs and diets of junk food and HobNobs, Butlins provides the pseudo-idyllic setting in which to lose your money and your marbles, to discard sanity and reality periodically before Monday returns with its entailing mundanity.
With this year's line up irrefutably representing the festival's strongest yet, entirely justifiably Bloc Weekend appears to have officially gone international, as approximately half of the weekend's highlights hail from German climes, whilst seemingly two thirds of the mingling and mangled in attendance have voyaged over from Spanish regions. One such germane German takes to Red:Bloc as part of Friday evening's Modeselektion, and goes by the moniker of Siriusmo. Known to his progenitors as Moritz Friedrich, those in attendance are enlightened and enlivened by nigh on an hour of relentless, full-blooded, well-rounded electro, Friedrich intermittently aided by a series of inspired Disney-influenced visuals courtesy of fellow Berlin outfit, Pfadfinderei and behind his MacBook by Gernot Bronsert. Culminating in an irrevocably electrifying Einmal in der Woche schreien, Friedrich justifies every online hallelujah of hype he's garnered of late. Equally unabating, if distinctly underwhelming is Sascha Ring who, under his Apparat guise, is aggressive to the point of the excruciating and he suffers for it, as hordes stream towards the intimacy provided by the pub-like Jak:Bloc, where a masked Aaron Jerome is anxiously awaited.
Jerome, aka SBTRKT is quite feasibly one of the weekend's most hotly-tipped acts, acclaim occasionally veering off into hyperbole, yet on the back of quite triumphant Young Turks releases he's already gone some way to acquitting himself in all the right ways to warrant all of the ranting and all of the raving he's accumulated thus far. Live however, without the aid of MC Sampha (credited for transforming the haunting Look At Stars into an altogether stellar track) Jerome opts to bypass much of his lauded original material in favour of an all too monotonous DJ set that touches on UK garage and tinges of jazz without ever tumbling headlong into anything all that stimulating. Which is a crying shame, as that raggedy Amazonian mask is quite something in the flesh/lumber. As with any festival with a line up as expansive and elaborate as this year's Bloc Weekend, clashes are all but inevitable, therefore the second your mind begins to wander, your feet may as well follow to other rooms and venues, hence a trudge to the Germanic siege of Red:Bloc is in order, where those congregated are battered by pure abrasion in the form of the warbling synths of Modeselektor. Exhibiting just why Thom Yorke waxes lyrical over their gloriously misanthropic aural assault in the shadow of an inflatable, kaleidoscopic Modeselektor monkey, they equilibrate the eerie, the ethereal and the ominous quite concisely, and are quite simply irradiant tonight.
Over in Centre:Bloc, a smell of decaying hotdogs left over from December's ATP Bowlie 2 lingers as if lodged beneath sticky plastic flooring, evoking a bittersweet nostalgia for those returning to the already sweat-soaked carpets of Bloc's monumental main hub. Magnetic Man provide the soundtrack, their oh-so-accessible hybrid "dubstep" ticking many a box right. Their set bereft of significant cameo as it was on the Shockwaves NME Awards Tour last month, the likes of Going Nowhere and I Need Air are a little lacklustre without their respective guest vocalists, although Flying Into Tokyo provides a poignant, if slightly strained tribute to those in the Japanese capital unfortunate enough to be experiencing nights as sleepless as most Blocheads as a sea of lighters is stirred overhead. It's then back over to Jak:Bloc where xx wunderkind Jamie xx takes to the decks in a biker boy jacket to reel off a grooved-up set of UK garage drafted in from the wildcard moments of Now 41. Quite possibly the most accomplished DJ set the weekend experiences, Jamie Smith nonchalantly twirls enough twelve inches to fill the Boiler Room twice over before putting needle to vinyl, whilst the highlight of his hour comes in a racy rework of I'll Take Care of You, lifted from his pioneering Gil Scott-Heron rethink, We're New Here. Given the veritable strength of solo recordings along the lines of Beat For and Far Nearer a touch more self-indulgence from the humble beat bumbler would have transformed his set into something quite superlative, but we'll forgive him that. And on that rather euphoric note, a sobering early morning roadside amble towards Dunster ensues.