Bloc, the emerging heavyweight of UK electronic music festivals, has revealed the first acts for its debut event in the capital.
The festival, from 6-7 of July, announced its line-up late yesterday with a range of electronica’s great and good set to perform over two days. Scene veterans Orbital will be headlining, along with LA astral beat-boffin Flying Lotus and paid up AA member Gary Numan. Other highlights of the cooler-than-ice-cold line up include Chilean minimalist Ricardo Villalobos, enigmatic masked rapper DOOM and twitchy math rockers Battles.
A wave of disappointed sighs were heard when Bloc declared it was upping sticks from Butlins Resort in Minehead, its home of five years. However, the announcement of this year’s festival on the site of the former Royal Victoria Pleasure Gardens looks a perfect fit. Pleasure Gardens, the most famous of which was found in Vauxhall, were outdoor venues along the banks of the Thames which provided the capital's wealthier denizens with evenings of "al fresco entertainment, socialising and romance", and were referenced by Samuel Pepys as early as 1662. The gardens grew in extravagance, reaching their pomp in the 18th century, with tightrope walkers, Chinese pavilions, fountain displays and fireworks. Music careers were also launched here, with Thomas Arne and George Frideric Handel building their reputations with outdoor performances. And in surely one of those “were you there?” moments, the pleasure gardens of Vauxhall held a 1,000 strong re-enactment of the Battle of Waterloo in 1827. Records suggest the evening was a lot more fun than playing Risk.
As all good things must come to an end, the grounds fell into decline in the 19th century and much of the land was sold off piecemeal for development. While a park still exists on the site, much of the surrounding area has since declined to a state of industrial decay. This year's festival is set to spearhead an Olympic development scheme seeking to return the area around the Royal Docks to a cultural hub. Other features of the development will include a guerilla-art hotel, wild gardens and a floating cinema. All of which sound like better ideas than a ruddy massive McDonalds.
Britain’s first PM Robert Walpole once described an evening at the Royal Victoria Gardens as “by far the best understood and prettiest spectacle that I ever saw…nothing in a fairy tale ever surpassed it.” Whilst raving at 5AM to techno in the riverside surrounds, we're sure others may reach a similar epiphany.
More information and tickets for the event can be found here. While entry to the Pleasure Gardens is no longer a guinea, there is a 6 tickets for 5 offer to entice early bookers.
Image used with permission from Bloc.2012
This article wrote that the festival was to be held at the Pleasure Gardens in Vauxhall. This has since been amended.