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Amon Tobin @ Bloc 2012

I write this on the Saturday afternoon that I should be getting into the mood for the second day of Bloc 2012, the new East London festival billed as a celebration of all things electronica.. (i.e. everything i really like about music)

Well as you may or may not know by now, Bloc was closed down last night due to overcrowding and health & safety issues, and today has been cancelled, so we won’t now get to see Orbital, Flying Lotus, Squarepusher, Ellen Allien, Space Dimension Controller or Battles…

To be honest, right from the off you tell there was something not quite right. We got there at about 5pm, as I wanted to see the Steve Reich show. Getting in was pretty easy for us as we had express tickets, but from then on it was queues all the way: into the arenas, onto the boat, at the bar… all ridiculously long and seemingly unnecessary, like nothing we’ve experienced before (and I’ve been going to festies for about 17 years)

It took us about 30 minutes to get onto the (admittedly pretty amazing) MS Stubnitz where, bathed in the glorious setting sun and nodding along to some pretty cool techno we stayed for an hour or so before heading over to see Amon Tobin and his ISAM show in one of the biggest tented structures I’ve ever been in…

I admit to only being vaguely aware of Amon Tobin before last night, a few tracks on Ninja Tune compilations that never really grabbed me, but having now witnessed something, the like of which I have never seen before in my life, I am a believer…

His difficult, strangely organic and at times bowel tremblingly powerful music was played through the most amazingly clear and fantastically loud sound system and was accompanied by a truly mind bending digital mapping show. Projected onto a 3 dimensionally cubed backdrop, the constantly changing shapes, colours, textures and forms were perfectly synched to Tobin’s soundscapes, creating an almost unimaginable experience. After about 20 minutes, Tobin was revealed to be standing within part of the structure in a translucent control box, nodding away and doing whatever it he does to make this future music…

Check out the ISAM album here on Spotify. As I said it’s not easy… slow, quiet and almost alien like in places then countered with soaring dub step, planet sized outbursts and intense shocks of machine noise, compositions not seemingly based on any structure as such (in fact almost perversely unstructured) but mesmerising all the same. So whilst certainly not to everyone’s tastes, see it live and loud, and I would challenge anyone not to be impressed..

It’s a real shame that last night’s Bloc turned to shit, and that today won’t happen. The rumors are that the tickets were  seriously oversold (25,000 instead of the agreed 15,000 per day) hence leading to the horrendous overcrowding and police intervention. If this festival failed because of greed, then the organisers should be ashamed of themselves for ruining such a potentially amazing experience.

I’ll finish with a couple of videos that I took last night. You don’t get any of the sense of scale or theatre of Tobin’s ISAM show, but they give an idea of the imagery and sound, whilst the photo at the end is of him standing in front of the structure onto which it was all projected.

  1. Kieran
    July 9, 2012 at 18:15

    Great review Joe. Sorry to hear that Saturday was shelved.

    Have to say the pressures on promoters these days to guarantee they cover overheads, licence fees etc in putting on a festival must be immense however no excuse whatsoever for putting the lives of people in danger. Don’t need to look back too far to see evidence of how overcrowding can cost lives with Love Parade being an example.

    Looking at the names involved, I thought the promoters had hit the nail on the head with the line-up over the weekend including some less known artists such as Amon Tobin that would introduce something different to the main hitters and in some cases, educate the ears of the public. Frustrating to hear what appears to be mainly the cause of greed has resulted in so much dissapointment to clubbers.

  2. July 10, 2012 at 12:40

    Howdy Kieran,
    It was a real shame about Satruday, I was well looking forward to seeing Flying Lotus & Orbital again… I wonder how long festivals as we know them will be able to carry on: crap weather, lack of cash and H&S issues are pretty well stacked against them I reckon..
    thanks for visiting & commenting and see you soon.

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