- Established back in 1994, Bugged Out has maintained a consistently high level of bookings during its 20 years of service to the UK's club scene. Superstar acts like Daft Punk and The Chemical Brothers are among their long list of past bookings, while they count artists such as Erol Alkan and Andrew Weatherall as old friends and continually support younger acts, too. It's a formula that has helped them maintain a successful club brand, eventually leading to the conception of their festival, Bugged Out Weekender.
Past editions of Bugged Out Weekender have taken place at the Butlin's holiday resort in Bognor Regis, but this year they relocated to another seaside holiday spot: Pontins in Southport, former home of Southport Weekender. Despite taking place in early March on the UK's notoriously wet northwest coast, the event enjoyed an unusually sunny spell over its three days, which helped to brighten the drab surroundings of Pontins, a back-to-basics style holiday resort made up of rows of two-storey blocks, each with several chalets. Inside the main building was a games arcade, a mini supermarket, two large halls (rooms one and two) and a pub (room three). Many of those in attendance had come from nearby towns and cities—Southport, Liverpool, Manchester—although there were a few revellers from The South as well.
First stop on the opening night was room one for Claude VonStroke. The Dirtybird boss powered his way through a bass-heavy set that leaned heavily on his own label and its associated artists. The huge main room was already starting to fill up as he played, and people continued to flow in at a steady pace in the lead-up to Todd Terje's live show, which was unsurprisingly retro-leaning and full of upbeat disco grooves. Later that night, Dixon's brand of emotive house and techno went down a treat with the packed dance floor.
The second day featured a pool party hosted by The 2 Bears, a pub quiz and various other activities for anyone hardy enough to prise themselves out of bed. The night programme got off to a good start with a live set from Ten Walls, an act whose outings on Life And Death and Innervisions sent him on an entirely new trajectory last year. Up next was another man of the moment, Paul Woolford, who took charge of room one with a medley of tough-edged house. This led perfectly into Green Velvet, who pounded the dance floor with techno of the highest order. George FitzGerald kept room two bubbling along nicely ahead of Kerri Chandler, who was as infallible as ever, ending his set by jumping on the mic and shouting out his friend MK before playing the New York remix master's classic "Burning."
By 2 AM it seemed as though most of the revellers had made a beeline for room three, where DJ EZ hosted another masterclass in CDJ manipulation. The small room, essentially the back of a pub, was packed and boiling hot, but that didn't put anyone off—in fact, more people piled into the space as EZ worked his way from old school UK garage to contemporary grime, with Meridian Dan's "German Whip" among countless tracks that sent the room into an uproar.
Those who made it to the last night still in one piece (or didn't have to head home for work on Monday) were treated to some of the weekend's best performances. Of particular note was Boddika, who impressed with a variety of dark, grimy selections all perfectly suited to the low ceilings of room two. Joy O followed with a set that brought together a variety of styles, including a moody remix of Armand Van Helden's "You Don't Know Me" and Dana Ruh's offbeat "Mawan."
The main room was techno central throughout Skream and Eats Everything's back-to-back session. The duo appeared to be having a ball as they worked the dance floor for four hours straight, offering little respite. Carl Craig refused to compromise for the festival crowd and was rewarded with a dedicated response—though his room wasn't packed, those who were there stayed with him till the end. Seth Troxler was the highlight of the evening, expertly weaving together a series of records that had the whole of room one transfixed. The music was leftfield, yet accessible, with vocals occasionally creeping in. Many agreed it was the perfect end to the festival.