Attendee speaks of 'relief' at overcrowded festival shut down
Michael Baggs

15:43 7th July 2012

On Friday night (6 July, 2012) in London, Bloc Festival was cancelled in the middle of it's first night, with thousands of attendees turfed out of the East London event - many without seeing any of the headline acts, including Snoop Dogg, perform.

Fans tweeted about the event being a 'disaster' as they attempted to make their way home from the festival in the early hours of Sunday morning, with others saying they were 'scared' for their own safety at the show.

We spoke to one attendee - Will Gilgrass, editor of dance music blog Radio ClubFoot - who was at Bloc to find out what really happened at the dance festival, who revealed the event was struggling long before the show was cancelled.

Arriving at the event at 9pm, Will reveals that the venue was already over-crowded with festival goers.

"The first place we tried to go to was the MS Stubnitz - the German boat they'd brought over as a venue," he tells us. "There was no way we were getting on. We thought this would probably be the case, but the fact one of our friends was unable to get into the main tent during DOOM at 11pm because of queues was ridiculous.

Problems were not simply limited to overcrowding, with bars under-stocked and poor speakers inside the venues.

"One of the bars ran out of Budweiser by 10.30pm and the sound quality in the main arena was also very poor," Will continued, claiming attendees were still attempting to make the most of the festival. "The atmosphere was so strange because everyone was so pumped for the event and were trying their best to make it a great event but it was increasingly becoming more difficult."

Following these initial problems, the extent of the festival chaos was revealed as crowds gathered for the Friday night headline act, Snoop Dogg.

"He was due on stage at midnight, and didn't appear and at around 12.30am their was an announcement made saying he wasn't going to be coming on," Will reveals. "At first I thought it was just Snoop who had been cancelled and wasn't aware it was the whole event - highlighting the poor sound quality in the main stage I suppose. But it was evident before this that there were problems.

Aside from the one announcement from Snoop Dogg's empty stage, further information was scarce.

"I'm still unaware as to how so many people could have been in that space and who made the call - the organisers of the event, the Pleasure Gardens or the Police," said Will. "It was the right decision to take but it should never have got to that point."

Uncertainty over what was happening gave way to an eventual sense of relief, as Will reveals his group were almost pleased that the event was over.

"There was also a strange sense of relief because it was so awful we'd been given an excuse to go home," he said. "Once we'd left the site there was massive frustration because it was in a not massively accessible place to get to and so it was difficult for people to get home.

However, despite all this, he reveals that the audience remained well behaved after a disaster of an evening.

"There was certainly discontent amongst the punters but from my experience there was no trouble and the security staff/police managed to do a good job of getting so many pissed off people out," he concluded.

Bloc organisers issued the following statement today (7 July, 2012):

"By now everyone will have heard that Bloc 2012 was closed due to crowd safety concerns. We are all absolutely devastated that this happened, but the safety of everyone on site was paramount. Given the situation on the ground, we feel that it was the right decision to end the show early.

"Bloc will not open on Saturday 7th July so please don’t come to the site. Stand by for full information on refunds."

The event was taking place at London's Pleasure Gardens, a 60,000 square-meter venue in East London. Snoop Dogg and Orbital were due to headline the event.

Below: Bloc festival and more cancelled events of 2012

  • Bloc Festival: The international electronic music festival was supposed to take place at the London Pleasure Gardens this year, but ended up being nothing short of a disaster. The site was evacuated in the early hours of Friday morning with no explanation, although a statement later released by the organisers said it was due to "crowd safety concerns" - while a police statement blamed bad weather.

  • Live From Jodrell Bank: Paul Weller''s Live From Jodrell Bank concert was one of the first casualties of the weather this year. Event director Jon Drape said the site was "unfit to accommodate crowds" and that they were "unable to deliver the concert safely." He added that all ticket holders would get a refund.

  • MFEST: With performers ranging from Bob Geldof to Cher Lloyd. Flood warnings meant that the festival just couldn''''t go ahead. MFEST said: "It is with our deepest regret that due to the adverse weather conditions leading up to this event, in conjunction with the extreme weather warning as issued by the Met Office for the weekend, we were left with no other decision than to abandon this weekend''s MFEST."

  • Godiva Festival: Coventry''s annual free event was cancelled after flash floods took place the week before. More than 100,000 people were supposed to arrive for the UK''''s biggest free three day event. Jos Parry from Coventry City Council said the event had been cancelled due to "dangerously boggy" ground and the council would lose £350,000. Echo And The Bunnymen were due to perform.

  • Hit Factory Live: The Stock, Aitken and Waterman gig in Hyde Park this summer was cancelled due to safety concerns at the site after torrential rain wreaked havoc with the park's grounds. The show was meant to include a duet between Jason Donovan and Kylie Minogue as well performances from Steps, Rick Astley, Bananarama, Jason Donovan, Sinitta, Sonia and 2 Unlimited.

  • Creamfields: This years festival was cancelled during the weekend after flooding on site made the event unsafe, and organisers told ticket holders not to turn up for the last day. Heavy rain had turned the event into a mud bath and punters did not get a chance to see Deadmau5 headline.

  • Indiana State Fair 2011: Winds which measured at over 60 miles per hour flattened the stage structure just before the band Sugarland were due to perform at the outdoor event in Indianapolis, USA. Six people lost their lives and many more were injured during this event.

  • Pukkelpop Festival 2011: A sudden storm that swept through a popular open-air music festival in Belgium left five people dead and more than 70 injured after two stages collapsed. The bad weather also toppled trees and brought down giant screens at the venue. Jared Leto, whose band 30 Seconds To Mars were due to headline the main stage tonight, wrote on Twitter before the staged collapsed: "CRAZY STORM AT PUKKELPOP IN BELGIUM – NOT SURE WE WILL BE ABLE TO GO ON STAGE – STAY TUNED. SAFETY FIRST."

  • Fuji Rock Festival 1997 – The inaugural Japanese Festival was struck by a typhoon on the opening day. Amazingly Red Hot Chili Peppers honoured their set and performed through the violent storm - frontman Anthony Keidis had a broken arm too. However, due to being somewhat under-prepared for the disastrous weather, the event was called off before the second day. The festival is now held in Naeba, Niigata Prefecture but has retained the 'Fuji' name.

  • The xx, Grimes and Cat Power are just some of the acts that have been forced to cancel or postpone their scheduled concerts in the US, as the East Coast braces itself for the extreme weather. Hurricane Sandy is set to cause havoc right along the East Coast of America, and according to The New York Times areas from Delaware to Southern New England could be affected.


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