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Bloc 2012 - An Account of a Cursed Music Festival

For my initial thoughts and theories about why the Bloc festival went wrong from someone who witnessed it in person, check out Bloc 2012 - The Festival That Could Not Be.

Ok so we all know by now that Bloc 2012 went tits up, but nonetheless, I have provided an account of my experience.  So for my £107 (weekend ticket plus booking fee), here is what I got for my money.

Arrived about 5pm and it took about 20-25 minutes to get through the entrance queues and security checks. We were obviously early enough to beat the hellish entrance/security queues that were to later transpire.

After checking out the near side of the horse shoe shaped location that contained the arenas/boat, my initial thoughts were that the walk-ways between the arenas were too narrow, and that the Stubnitz boat shouldn't have been located in a corner of the same area as the arenas. Definitely the potential here for things to go wrong...

The plan was to check out Steve Reich/Bang on a Can All-Stars at 6pm in the Resident Advisor Hub. Upon stumbling upon a massive queue I assumed it would be for a bank machine, but when I saw it was the queue to get into the Resident Advisor Hub, more alarm bells started to ring in my head about the design and organisation of the site.

At music festivals I expect some queuing at the entrance, bars and the toilets, but I don't expect to have to also queue to get into each arena within the site. So we decided to sack seeing Steve Reich/Stars for the time being and headed for the Stubnitz boat. The music on deck wasn't really our cup of tea so we found ourselves in the hot and sweaty Atrium room (it was too early to brave the boiler room!).

Assuming everything was as per schedule (as I don't know these artists), we caught the tail end of Deadboy, the whole of Pinch and the start of Redinho. It's difficult to put a tag on what genre these guys were playing, perhaps 'wonky'? Although I'd imagine they are not the types that like being pigeon holed into anything.

Left the boat about 745pm to go and see Nicolas Jaar in the Resident Advisor Hub. Noted the huge queue that had now built up to get back into the boat, oh dear. However, there was no queue to get in to the Hub this time so I hoped they'd sorted out the gremlins from earlier (false hope of course). Nicolas Jaar only played for about 45 minutes but he fully met my high expectations of him. Other than a couple of crude, ear bleeding instances of feedback, I thought the sound system in the Hub was more than acceptable.

On the Friday the main arena didn't interest us until Richie Hawtin was on in the early hours, which was just as well as the queue to get in there was at this point swamping the large queues we'd seen earlier for the RA Hub and the boat. Again, not a good sign...

The next act we wanted to see was Will Saul at 10pm in the Carhartt Dome, but we ended up just heading in there at about 915pm to also catch most of Appleblim's set. Stayed till after 1130pm so also caught first half of Mosca.

During this time we witnessed another bad example of the poor organisation that was in play. A lone steward guarding a fire exit had started letting people out the doorway. Whilst he had good intentions all this resulted in was people trying to get back into the Dome via the fire exit to save themselves queuing at the main entrance. He tried in vain to tell them that the door could only be used as an exit, but eventually people started barging through the doorway.  To be honest I think this steward looked inexperienced so I felt sorry for him because he could have been injured by the rush of people. He didn't seem to be getting any assistance from his colleagues. What was needed to guard that fire exit was an experienced 'hard bastard' steward who would take no crap off people.

Next on our agenda wasn't until 1am to see Nathan Fake in the Stubnitz boiler room. However in truth, we didn't hold up much hope that we'd get back into the boat. But Carl Craig at 2am in the RA Hub was a must see for us, so if necessary Fake would be sacrificed to leave plenty of time for finding a decent spot in the arena for Craig. I'd seen Carl Craig put on this same set at the Sub Club in Glasgow a few months previous and it was a classic.

So with a bit of time to kill we decided to check out the far side of the 'horse shoe'. There wasn't much to it though. A pathway that led to a 'chill out' room, which led on to a 'VIP area' that was available to those with a fast track ticket. However it didn't sound like there were many folk in VIP.

Looking across the water towards the Stubnitz, it now looked mysteriously quiet. Decided to check Twitter to see what was being said. Oh dear...

It was now after 12am by this point but this is when I first saw comments suggesting that the organisers had in fact lost control of the event. People queuing for hours to get through the entrance/security, people being refused entry altogether, Snoop Dogg hadn't come on stage in the main arena, someone had fallen off the boat (that one was a load of bollocks), the police had appeared...etc...

So we decided to head back round to the other side to see what was happening.  On our way we encountered several annoyed punters who'd arrived later in the evening but hadn't even got to see one act yet due to the queues. It was all pointing to one thing now, that the event would be shut down.  We also began to feel that we'd actually done quite well with what we'd managed to see, in comparison to others!

True enough the event security and police were out in force. They had split the main side of the site in two. So you were either trapped on the 'quiet section' (about 3/4 of the footprint of the site) or the 'busy section' where the music arenas and boat were (about 1/4 of the footprint). The security/police were now telling everyone to leave.

In truth, it wasn't really a surprise after having been concerned with both the site and the organisation early doors. We were of course frustrated but we weren't particularly angry, after all everyone was in the same boat (so to speak).

Fortunately our hotel was within walking distance so we didn't have to suffer the hassle of finding transport from the London Pleasure Gardens site which is in the middle of a quiet industrial part of London Docklands. The queue for the taxis was enormous, and I heard that many folk ended up hanging around the local area until the next morning before they could get transport.

After witnessing the carnage that had unravelled we fully expected the Saturday to be cancelled, as did everyone else we spoke to on the way out.  The site's capacity and design issues aside, I also couldn't see them cleaning up the site and toilets within the 9 hours before day 2 was due to start, because if they'd been short on numbers for security staff then I thought they'd probably be under staffed in other areas too.

For the record, here was our plan of attack for the remainder of the festival, had things gone to plan:

DAY 1
0100 Nathan Fake
0200 Carl Craig
0300 Richie Hawtin
0400 Ricardo Villalobos

DAY 2
1600 Actress
1700 Apparat (Band)
1845 Gary Numan
2000 Luke Vibert
2100 Orbital
2300 Flying Lotus
0100 Squarepusher
0230 A.T.O.L or Jeff Mills
0430 Surgeon

Source: djpromoter - added 11 Jul 2012

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