Bugged Out Weekender @ Pontins, Southport, 7-9 Mar

Review by Edwina Chan | 22 Apr 2014

The attraction of a full English by the seaside isn’t the only reason why over six thousand punters would choose to set up camp at Southport's Pontins holiday park. A certain someone celebrates their 20th birthday this year. Jockey Slut was the brainchild of Paul Benney and John Burgess, a magazine for 'punks, bums, drunks and junkies,' and marked the first milestone in Bugged Out's journey. After clubnights at Sankeys and Liverpool's Cream, where Daft Punk celebrated their fourth birthday in 1995 (it was five of our Great British Pounds to get in, ladies and gents), the debut Bugged Out Weekender in 2000 nearly bankrupted them – but you don't get anywhere by not taking risks.

This weekend, the chalets ensure that the focus is on raving rather than comfort. First stop on Friday's voyage is Dirtybird founder Claude VonStroke's set in Room 1 – but with a few too many callow loops, the journey continues to Danish artist Rune Reilly (Kölsch), who brings his spectrum of melodic techno, signature black fedora, and of course notable tracks such as Loreley and Goldfisch to Room 2. With great choice comes great sacrifice, so back to Room 1 it is – but not before an encounter with Daniel Avery pondering his poison at the Green Room Bar.

By the time Norwegian disco king Todd Terje graces the stage, the crowd's functionality suggests it's already 4am, but the buzz is appropriate for Terje's first live UK set. A refreshing break from hard-hitting techno, his arms-in-the-air party features the funky, thumping basslines and 80s shimmering synths of Delorean Dynamite, single from appropriately named debut It's Album Time (out this month). After his edits of the likes of Chic and Stevie Wonder, it's no wonder the crowd are Terje's helpless disco-dancing puppets. The gathering melodic force of Ragysh climbs to the room's summit, and the crowd happily loses its sanity.

Back in Room 2 (spotted on the way: Mount Kimbie on a stag-do), Erol Alkan, a resident since 2001, has become a name synonymous with Bugged Out and brings his musical wizardry of hectic beats and wildly oscillating electro. Daniel Avery plays a B2B set with long-serving master selector Andrew Weatherall, a man who also boasts production credits for the likes of Fuck Buttons and Primal Scream – and, after the release of Drone Logic late last year, tonight provides a window into a not-so-distant future where Avery cements his place as a household name.

For the undefeated revellers, The 2 Bears pull in summer four months early on Saturday afternoon, with one of Bugged Out's infamous pool parties. The atmosphere remains playful, but their set dissolves into peripherals among inflatable balls. Whoever set up tonight’s itinerary, however, deserves a high five, as Ten Walls lays down his set at ten o’clock.

Arcade games that have seen better days provide back support for a slew of club casualties, as the walk from George Fitzgerald’s pounding drums and club-ready chord progressions leads to Chicago house legend Green Velvet, aka Cajmere, who gives a nod to stage predecessor Paul Woolford by opening with his remix of Woolford’s Erotic Discourse. A satisfyingly grimey techno expedition follows. We also couldn’t miss the father of UKG, and upon arrival into the adjacent Room 3 (also: pub), an optimum body-popping spot is found for DJ EZ. Such tight perimeters lend his dexterous set a house party vibe, and when 21 Seconds booms through the speakers, the audience’s nostalgic spirits unite in enthusiasm and sweat.

Sunday gets darker over at Boddika, who takes the music to a morbid, harsh but sadistically satisfying place – and the London-based producer's hard-hitting bass nicely sets up the ambience for regular partner Joy Orbison, who, unsurprisingly, swims through a flawless mix of genres reflecting the crowd’s yearns and wants.

The next body to commandeer Room 1 is one that many, many eyes have seen naked (remember last year's promotional video for Eastern Electrics?): tache-donning legend Seth Troxler, who opens with Blood Orange's Champagne Coast as Eats Everything swaggers behind him necking a bottle of vodka. For all the sombre techno that has speckled the weekend, Troxler's iridescent energy serves as counterpoint. As he closes, he kindly wishes for all to get laid, and promises an afterparty.

Finally, Dave Clarke, who's watched Bugged Out grow and develop, remains at the top of his game as he tests the crowd's resilience with unremitting bass. As his set draws to a close, the crowd lift their arms skyward, embracing a DJ and clubnight that serve as a reminder there are still pioneers who make sure this community remains authentic and very much alive. [Edwina Chan]