Remember the Vans Warped Tour? Well, the Mad Decent Block Party is exactly like that, but instead of high school kids smoking cigarettes and ditch weed while complaining about their parents, you have club kids taking Molly and complaining about how the universe is one. Or something.
If you didn’t understand the above paragraph because, as a teenager, you weren’t cool enough to see Fall Out Boy before they got famous (I was unfortunately this cool), here’s a much, much more basic overview of what the Mad Decent Block Party is. Mad Decent is a dance music label in Philadelphia. It is owned in part by Diplo, who is also its biggest star and also stars in Blackberry commercials sometimes. Every year, they have a party. It is usually on a block, and it is usually in Philadelphia. However, in the past two years the party has grown in notoriety to the degree that Mad Decent tends to have their block parties in many different cities, and they’re now too big to be contained to a mere block. I went to the one this weekend in Philadelphia.
Okay, now that you understand anything and everything about the Mad Decent Block Party, here’s why this year’s block party was extra special: because not only was Diplo going to be there, but at the Block Party afterparty, he was also going to reunite with DJ Low Budget to re-form their Hollertronix duo for the first time in years.
As I said earlier, the Mad Decent Block Party was not actually on a block this year. Instead, it was at this place called “The Piazza,” which is a square that is surrounded by recently-erected buildings that will sell you goods if you let them. Das Racist seemed slightly perturbed by this disturbing proximity to capitalism.
Anyways, remember the whole Mad Decent Block Party is like the Vans Warped Tour thing? Well, just as it was a 95 degrees when you went to your local mega-venue for some pop-punk-rockin’, it was also 95 degrees in “The Piazza.” The heat was interrupted by a brief torrential downpour right before the first act went on, though, which dropped the temperature five degrees but upped the humidity to the point that the air was so thick you could cut it with one of the knives that security was confiscating at the gates.
The first couple of acts were DJs that had to perform outside a hamburger joint due to technical difficulties, followed onstage by the Brick Bandits crew, an almost comically large DJ collective. Being saddled with the responsibility of going first (onstage at least) seemed to be to their liking, and they were fully prepared to rock the party like it was 2 a.m. on a Saturday night even if it so happened to be 3:15 on a Sunday afternoon. However, with great responsibility comes great power, or in Brick Bandits’ case, a substantial lack thereof. That’s right, the rain that had served as the opening act of this shindig had blown something electrical backstage and the first half of their set would be plagued by sound issues that even the insane energy put off by their hype men couldn’t redeem. However, during the second half of the set they finally got things working and everybody started losing their shit just in time to have the Brick Bandits’ set be over with. Sorry, Brick Bandits. Next time, okay?
However, the momentum was tripped up by Po Po, a rock band signed to Mad Decent. Now, I’m not saying that Po Po is a bad band, or even a bad live band. But following up a DJ set that had seen the Brick Bandits overcome herculean odds to scrap together some momentum, you want more DJs, not twenty-five minutes of disinterested guitar noodling.
Das Racist came out next, but only after their DJ had played four Dipset songs in a row-- I guess as a palate-cleanser for whatever club music had played before-- and proceeded to try to educate the audience on some of the finer points of racism in America/make jokes. It was good—especially when they performed their new single “Michael Jackson”—and I particularly appreciated Heems’ explanation of “tiny dance moves,” which is sort of a hard thing to explain but makes perfect sense when you watch it for yourself.
Following DR was DJ Paul Devro, who was followed by DJ Sega’s particularly gully brand of Philly Club music, and following that was Diplo, whose set was made up almost exclusively of all of the songs hard-wired into hipster brains. When he dropped Tyler, the Creator’s “Yonkers,” it was like five thousand entry-level alt heads exploded, including mine.
Okay, on to Hollertronix. I was unable to stay for the duration of the historical set-- for reasons related to alcohol intake (sorry mom), hand stamp erasure and bouncers-- but Low Budget and Diplo tore it up together like they hadn’t spent the past few years not tearing it up together. The thirty or so minutes of their set that I managed to catch was some of the finest DJing I had ever seen. Trust me. I’ve seen Skrillex twice!
And that, as they say, was that. Shouts out to DJ Stumble for playing excellent host, Gun$ Garcia for letting me play with her dog, and Diplo for retweeting this gif of someone knocking his DJ table over at like three in the morning.