Mad Decent Block Party
Better than: Decent
At the L.A. stop for the annual Mad Decent Block Party on Saturday, there was more booty shakin' and molly poppin' than you could shake a giant foam finger at. This year marked the festival's 2nd run at L.A. Center Studios and its 4th tour through L.A. The daytime concert is a showcase of artists on Diplo's label, Mad Decent, which is based in L.A. these days.
Fans had to buy tickets in advance for the first time this year; it didn't sell out, but there was still a massive turnout of Greek system types and hipsters alike, ready to express themselves on hot concrete all day long.
The open-air event was lively and actually kind of intimate. With only one small stage, a handful of food trucks and a few promotional booths, everyone was basically forced to crowd into the same place. It was a shoulder-to-shoulder sweaty twerk fest that went down approximately like this:
1:20pm: Arriving, I saw bro tanks and booty shorts abound, and figured I was in the right place. To my right were a slew of Puma and iHome promotional booths with long lines of sweaty, scantily clad twenty-somethings hungry for free stuff.
1:25pm: While enjoying a Lime sweet & spicy steak taco, I learned that they confiscate the cap if you buy a water bottle. “If you throw a water bottle without a cap, it won't be able to hurt anyone because all the water will fly out,” explained a Red Bull rep.
2:18pm: In true DGAF fashion, Riff Raff came out on stage late, cradling his new Siberian husky puppy, which he calls Jody Husky in his hand. This was his first show in L.A. since our giant expose on him, and we were very curious to see his show.
The rapper's braids looked freshly done and he was dressed in green tiger-print pants and a wacky tribal-print tank top. Riff Raff performed “They Figured I Worked for Mexico” while a white guy wearing ironic chains next to me did the Dougie.
2:20pm: Riff put the dog on his neck like a scarf while rapping “Deion Sandals.” There was weed in the air, but it was still early in the day, so not many people had showed up yet. Riff noticed the weak turn out too. “Maybe one day I'll be a real boy and play like Major Lazer, right now I gotta play at noon and shit.”
2:31pm: Lil Debbie joined him onstage for “Brain Freeze,” while a back up dancer started violently twerking. Lil Debbie, a rapper from Oakland and formerly part of Kreayshawn's White Girl Mob, seemed to lack energy, although maybe I was just bitter because I kept getting hit in the head with the same beach ball over and over.
2:45pm: Far East Movement exploded onto the stage to perform “The Illest.” The deafening bass was obscuring the sound of the song's melody, and the whole thing turned into a confusing mess of hopping, dancing, and weak stage diving by Prohgress. A mosh pit started and I retreated to the media area above the crowd.
2:52pm: Riff Raff had the crowd pretty turnt up. Unfortunately, his sound got cut off in the middle of “Cuz My Gear” because he was over his time. “Oh ya'll gon cut me off?” he said, throwing the mic to the ground and storming off stage.
4:30pm: After an energized, rap-music infused performance from Matt & Kim, the sun had sunk down behind the surrounding buildings and the rave portion of the Block Party was starting. L.A.-based D.J. Clockwork kicked off his set with his hit, “Surge.” After thirty seconds of wild cheering from the crowd, the melodic track quickly dove into a hard-hitting 125 bpm bass line. The build-up, drop, rinse, and repeat process is Clockwork's bread and butter, and he was not afraid to use this formula for his entire set. The fist-pumping bros and flower-crowned rave girls were feeling it, and so was the super tall guy beside me wearing a giant white tutu.
4:57pm: Clockwork transformed into his alter ego, RL Grime, dropping his trap remix of Benny Benassi's “Satisfaction.” By that time, the venue was packed and the crowd was shaking it. The rumbling trap kicks were a nice break from the monotony of Clockwork's overdone drops. The trap takeover did not last long, though. Clockwork reverted back to big room dance with a mashup of Florence and the Machine's “Sweet Nothing” and Sebastian Ingrosso's “Reload.” I heard a guy next to me say, “I like Clockwork man, even better than RL.”
5:05pm: A short, bass-corrupted remix of Kaskade's “One Last Chance” superbly ended Clockwork's set. A crowd of ravers, hipsters, and guys dressed as Major Lazer all jumped in unison to Clockwork's final gritty drop.
5:13pm: L.A. native Dillon Francis (or was it DJ Hanzel?) casually showed up in a classy black suit to play a surprise DJ set. “Who's ready to go one fucking deeper?” Francis asked the crowd as he ushered in some chill vibes with a downtempo euro-house mix.
6:53pm: After Big Gigantic's interesting, jazzy dubstep set finished, the space around the stage was filled to the brim with people anticipating the main event: Major Lazer. Kids were getting desperate to sneak a peek at the fun-sized stage: Some even climbed trees in order to get a good view. Intro music began to play and fog machines deployed a billowy mist behind the colorfully lit white curtain that was hiding the act's stage setup.
6: 55pm: The curtain lifted to reveal a giant blow-up Major Lazer on the side of the stage. Diplo and friends came out and mounted a DJ stand made of giant faux speakers. A cute back-up dancer in a rasta-colored crop top and shorts began twerking. Walshy Fire and Diplo started tossing whistles and horns to the crowd over that glorious sample from the Lion King that goes, “Ahhhhh sibenyaaaa babapisivechaa.” Then, pop! Diplo fired his t-shirt gun/confetti cannon over the crowd as “Differentology” started to play. Only five minutes in, Major Lazer already had the crowd more amped than they had been all day.
7:09pm: Diplo glided across the crowd in his signature clear hamster ball. Those who smoke weed were asked to put their hands in the air, and indeed most were elevated as Diplo rolled back onto the stage and Jillionaire dropped “Original Don.”
7:24pm: A strange trap remix of “Suavemente” threw off the Caribbean reggae madness.
7:28pm: For the first time in history, Diplo said, he brought out the real Major Lazer on stage, and he was everything you'd imagine him to be: A giant, super ripped guy in fake robot armor and fuzzy red cap, played by Terry Crews. “This is Terry Crews,” Walshy Fire shouted, “he's an athlete, but he can also dance. Show 'em some of your moves, Major Lazer.” Crews then did the robot per Latrell in White Chicks. Nice.
7:41pm: Earlier, the performers had thrown color packets to the crowd, and now they broke them open and tossed them in the air. Bursts of powdery body paint flew into the air to create a layer of colorful fog that slowly descended onto the crowd.
8:01pm: The set concluded with Bob Marley's “One Love.” I looked down from the sky bridge to see a fat guy wearing a leather sex harness singing and embracing his friends in a circle. People started to leave in an attempt to beat the mass exodus of shirtless sweaty bodies.
As I walked back out to the dirt parking lot, I ran into a drunk and/or high gentleman who frantically asked me, “Is it over? It's only 8pm, we were just getting started. What am I supposed to do now?”
Personal Bias: Dillon Francis re-tweeted my post on him, so we're besties.
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