Mad Decent Block Party
August 25, 2012
On Saturday the fifth annual Mad Decent Block Party concluded its five city tour in Los Angeles, at Center Studios near downtown. Curated by producer and lover of annoying sounds Diplo, the Block Party's eclectic line-up of hip hop, dance, and electronic music showcased the roster of his LA-based Mad Decent label.
The diversity of the performing artists, as well as the fact that it was an all-ages, free event, attracted a spectrum of attendees, including raver babes, tank-top clad bros, hipster and hip hop heads. Teens were out in full effect, visibly antsy to enjoy one of their last summer weekends.
I was most excited to see Riff Raff, an MC and recent signee of Mad Decent. His penchant for goofy, over-the-top surrealism and grandiosity has left rap fans divided, and led to an altercation with an audience member during the Block Party's stop in Chicago. His L.A. set was surprisingly laid back (and short). It and included his songs "Cuz My Gear," "Marc Jacobs," and "Lil Mama I'm Sorry." He complained about the low volume of his backing tracks, prompting the sound technician to crank the bass so loud it practically made waves in the air. His requests for drugs and for hot women came across half-hearted and perfunctory, but he delivered his songs with spirit.
The Block Party drew a mixed crowd, roughly equal with men and women, but there was only one female on the bill. One third of the Brazilian favela funk group, Bonde Do Rolê, Laura Taylor held her own as she writhed, thrust, and head-banged along with the band's sexy, electro-jams. Each of the members sported bright garments, engaged in mock sex acts, and doused each other in water, beer, and, finally, milk.
The hip hop and dance sets were broken up by a number of live DJ sets, by Paper Diamond, Clockwork, 3 Ball MTY, Paul Devro and Munchi. Though some sets were definitely better than others, each DJ succeeded in getting the crowd to throw their hands up and bounce. Clockwork was the stand-out, the most animated, often leading the crowd through his musical transitions like a classical conductor, with pantomimes and lip-syncing.
Other artists included L.A.-based swag rapper Casey Veggies and Brooklyn-based genre-bender, Theophilus London. Veggies' show featured an onstage posse and a lot of call and response. His laid back beats were perfect for sippin' and swayin', but were also hard-hitting enough to keep the audience's attention. Theophilus London repped Bushwick and recalled TV on the Radio and Bloc Party. His set was punctuated by gun shot and air horn sound effects, which made it difficult for the already-tired audience to keep their momentum going.
Unfortunately Action Bronson didn't play, but it was hard to walk away disappointed. This scene is clearly an all-inclusive one that fosters a sense of community, even if it seems like all its members care about is sex, drugs, and dancing.
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