I have to admit that I had massive preconceptions after my own massive build-up. I was convinced that sleepy little Minehead, better known in festival land for the more relaxed All Tomorrow’s Parties, would become Shoreditch-by-the-Sea once the hipstamatic crowd arrived wearing dayglo loafers. Arriving via the Bloc bus on the Thursday night confirmed my worst suspicions. We spent the evening curtain twitching from the confines of our chalet watching the herds of 20-year-olds excitedly running around screaming like they had just been let off the leash. We made the wise decision not to join them in the main arena, retiring to a rubber lined mattress, that killed all passions as well as bed bugs.
The Foursquare top-tip is to upgrade on your accommodation – and they are not wrong on that front. The four person chalets appear to be the most comfortable; five bed cram in an extra person via a bunk bed, six beds still only have two keys to share, while the 8 beds are guaranteed party dorms. Distance wise it took less than 10 minutes to walk from the edge of the festival site to the main arena, and food wise it does pay to take the 15 minute hike to the supermarkets outside Butlins to stock up on liquids and other supplies for the weekend. There was a constant challenge to sneak booze past the security lining the arena – the best one was a can snug in the hoodie.
The biggest shock of the festival hit while ripping open the programme pack. Friday night featured many of the programme heavyweights, including Modeselektor, Jamie XX, Magnetic Man, Dopplereffect, Ramadanman & Joy Orbison, all dramaticly clashing. Thankfully the festival arena is small yet roomy enough so people can move comfortably from one stage to another within less than 5 minutes, but it didn’t stop the crowd tweeting their grumbles to #Bloc2011. While I was initially disappointed, I understand it was a tactic to limit queueing times and packed dancefloors. This could have been implemented a little more, such as Saturday night. The queue for Fourtet & Aphex Twin left many disappointed as it snaked around the arena, but many found salvation in the form of DJ Funk when searching for their kicks elsewhere.
Musically the crowd got what they were promised. Each stage was produced by a different promoter/group each night, selecting their own pick of perfection. For me Friday night was spent in the company of the Modeselektion’s finest; Ikonika kept a throbbing pace even after a power cut, Apparat dazzled with sensitivity, but the definite high point accumulated with Modeselektor inviting the crowd on stage for Happy Birthday. After Moderat blew me away mid Saturday I knew I had my musical high point of the festival. But there was so much more to come.
One of the highlights for me has to be the crowd – a 70:30 ratio of tech heads, their mates, and their fun loving girlfriends, always on the same level. Every stage had it’s own visual delights to dribble over, with enough room for flamboyant booty shaking and enough seating for when you get the leg wobblies. And the with a Funktion 1 rig on every stage, tinnitus never featured in your hangover.
In terms of location, tone, crowd I can not fault anything. The hard electronica music may not be to everyones taste, but I have never danced harder.
Photo courtesy of Pit Pics Photography