Earlier this week we gave you our review of the Mad Decent Block Party as it touched down at the Merriweather Post Pavilion in the DMV area. But did you know that back in 2008, Philadelphia hosted the very first Mad Decent Block Party? Taking place on the basketball courts of 12th & Spring Garden, this free concert and barbecue was held in response to the growing popularity of the Roots Picnic. The event showcased new sounds and styles coming from the burgeoning Mad Decent label, featuring the likes of Dirty South Joe, DJ Sega, Nadastrom, Flosstradamus, and more. Fast forward to the present day and, besides the venue and production value, the party’s still going strong.
This time around, the annual block party came to the River Stage at the Great Plaza on Penn’s Landing for the second year in a row. The multi-tiered, amphitheater setup on the waterfront was the perfect venue for an event of this nature. At any given point during the show you could look around and enjoy a panoramic view of thousands of others going absolutely NUTS to the music.
The day started off with sets from psych-rock guru Jahan Lennon, Philly club connoisseurs Swizzymack and Dirty South Joe, and major label Brooklyn MC Dyme-A-Duzin of the Phony Ppl collective. Unfortunately, I missed out on these openers but made it just in time to see DJ Sega take the stage. As previously mentioned, Sega’s been with the Mad Decent crew from the jump and his mastery of the local party scene was readily apparent. By this point, the crowd was filling in and Sega got things rocking with a set full of his signature Philly club style. Highlights included his remixes of “Black Skinhead,” “Internet Friends,” and a headnodic edit of “Cinema (Skrillex Remix)” that sent the crowd into a frenzy.
Next up were D.C. moombahton ambassadors Nadastrom who, in my opinion, stole the show with their low end assault of body rocking jams. For those not familiar with moombahton’s origin, the story goes that Dave Nada (half of the duo) invented the genre on the fly at a basement party by slowing down Dutch house music to the familiar slink of reggaeton at 110 BPM. Since that famed night, moombahton’s influence has spread throughout the dance community and Philly was no exception. While most of the acts at MDBP that day aimed for the skies with their patently boisterous sets, Nadastrom comfortably slid into a deep grove and left the audience enraptured. It is all too common these days for big name DJs to play the same repertoire of popular tracks over and over ad nauseam, which is why their set was so refreshing. I may be alone in this sentiment, but I like when DJs drop songs that I’ve never heard before and leave me scouring the Internet for them after the performance. Props to Nadastrom for straying from the pack.
Before I get into RiFF RaFF, let me just first say that the man is one of the most polarizing figures in the rap game. Just read some of his tweets or watch a Vine or two and you’ll either be hooked or appalled. Personally, I think his brand of referential, over-the-top humor is incredibly funny and his wealth of mixtapes and music videos is a testament to his grind. However, being Internet famous doesn’t always translate well into a concert setting. I doubt anyone in the audience that day knew a single word to any of his songs. I even overheard someone comparing RiFF to a real life version of Jamie Kennedy in Malibu’s Most Wanted. But hey, at least he didn’t get booed off the stage like last year, and I call that progress!
The duo that comprises Flosstradamus have their shows down to a science at this point, J2K playing the hype man while Autobot handles most of the technical work. This makes for a fairly predictable (albeit highly entertaining) set of their signature hip-hop meets trap-rave remixes and original tunes. A highlight was when they dropped the Cashmere Cat remix to Miguel’s “Do You…”, one that you’re guaranteed to hear at least once at every festival or show for the rest of summer.
Dillon Francis was set back with some amp difficulties in the first ten minutes, but made up for it with an expectedly killer set of electro, house, trap and everything in between. Words do not do justice to the collective crowd reaction when he dropped his “moombahton on acid” remix to Passion Pit’s “Carried Away”.
The closing and most anticipated act, Major Lazer aka the team of Diplo, Jillionaire, and Walshy Fire, turned it up a notch or ten with their rowdy stage antics. Whether it was the dozen or so dancers twerking onstage, vuvuzelas being tossed out to the front row or Jillionaire demanding everyone in the crowd to remove their shirts ––which they did–– Major Lazer definitely knew a thing or two about throwing a party. And the same can be said for all of the Mad Decent Block Party’s across the country. Starting from humble beginnings as quite literally a community block party, the annual concert has transformed into a force to be reckoned with on the major festival circuit.