Last Saturday, August 13th, music fans in the city of brotherly love were gifted with another year of Mad Decent Block Party, a music event that largely got its start here in Philadelphia. The first edition of MDBP took place in 2008 and over the last 8 years has grown into one of dance music’s biggest touring shows. Founder of Mad Decent, Diplo, rose to fame in our city and is widely considered to be one of the most influential members of the genre. A large amount of it’s growth can be contributed to him, and every year we are pleased to have him back in the August heat so he can show Philly all the love that it has given him throughout his career. This year, the lineup was yet again blessed with tons of talented acts who brought their A-Game, despite an incredibly hot day. Fans and artists alike braved the weather early in the day, and at 3pm the gates opened. Eight hours of madness ensued, courtesy of artists like Slushii, Herobust, Party Favor, Valentino Khan, Baauer, Diplo, and local acts such as Swizzymack and Dirty South Joe.
We arrived early in the day to catch some of our favorite locals who have been throwing down for the Mad Decent crowd since we can remember. Dirty South Joe and Swizzymack threw down an awesome back to back set per usual, and the Philly fam was proud to see their friends on stage killing it. Walking through the crowd this year, we caught conversations from attendees who had traveled from other cities as well to catch the action. These fans were just as pleased with the cities finest, and the day started off with a bang. Next up, the headlining talent would take over, and the anticipation was buzzing through the air.
At 5pm, Herobust stepped up to the decks ready with all that he had in the tank. From the opening song, the Atlanta producer had an incredible amount of energy that was well matched by the crowd. Herobust has been one of the most talked about acts of the summer, and has arguably had the most successful festival season of any artist. He has been touring all over the world smashing sets with many of his new originals off of his EP ‘I’m Aloud’. On top of his sold originals, came a plethora of diverse bass music ranging from big name producers, to some smaller acts who deserve the talent and recognition that the bigger acts do. Highlights of the set were his mashup of Heroes by Alesso and One More Time by Phiso, as the vibe of the set went from angelic to straight filthy. We were also very pleased to hear Herobust play out a collaboration remix of Ookay’s Thief by New York producer Bailo and Philadelphia’s own Subtronics. There was not a single mistake over the course of this hour long set, and memorable isn’t even close to the right word to describe the experience.
Next up was a slew of talent between Slushii, a new up and coming act, Rich the Kid, the only hip-hop act on the lineup, and Party Khan, a back to back set from the likes of Party Favor and Valentino Khan. Unfortunately, we were not very impressed with any of these acts. Slushii came on stage, and while his set was very diverse switching between lighter future bass and heavier dubstep, the mixing was not very clean. We never know what was coming next, but when it did come, we felt as though we had to stop dancing through each transition, as the beat was not singular. Rich the Kid took the stage, and surprised us as well, but not in a positive way. Very few of Rich’s original songs were played out and the set was more of a hype-up set by his DJ who played out the biggest songs in Rap and Hip-Hop. While we heard a lot of music we liked, we didn’t understand what place these songs had in his set. We would have liked to see more of Rich the Kid and less of the top 40 chart. After him, Party Kahn took the stage to loud cheers from the crowd, and rightfully so! Party Favor and Valentino Khan have been crushing dance music especially over the last year, so the excitement was real to see the two playing together. However, the song selection didn’t seem very diverse and their ability to engage fans in the crowd was not very well done. Back to back sets are difficult to perfect because the combination of two styles and mixing styles as well is a challenge, so we gave them the benefit of the doubt. We felt nervous going into the end of the night as we had been disappointed for a period of time now, but we dug our feet in and got ready for the final two acts of the night.
Up next was Baauer who in our opinion had the best set of the night. Baauer had visited Philly earlier in the year, and had absolutely crushed his headlining set at the Union Transfer, so we definitely expected a lot from him. He completely delivered and brought back a style of trap that is not played out very much anymore. With his old school vibes, he added in many newer tracks as well and played out tunes from all over the map. Genre switches were often and his originals seemed to blast the crowd into oblivion in the best way possible. We tip our hats to Baauer for consistently being one of the best acts that EDM has to offer.
Finally the time had arrived for the final act of the night, Mad Decent’s head honcho Diplo stepped up to the decks to the loudest screams of the night. Fans shuffled as close to the front railing as the could and the venue was packed the most it had been all night. There were very few areas left to stand so we held our ground and caught a great angle of his set. His set was interesting to say the least. We expected a lot of the Mad Decent craziness to come from Diplo’s set, but it did not seem to deliver. The set was focused more on Diplo’s recent tracks rather than his Mad Decent ties. His set was definitely original and featured a lot of crowd and radio favorites, but not necessarily the kind of set we expected from him. We commend him for his ability to captivate the crowd, mix smoothly, mix creatively, and fill the headlining spot with energy and class, but it wasn’t unfair to want a little more from him in our books. The night closed down with anthem after anthem from Diplo’s many projects (Solo pieces, Major Lazer, Jack U, Etc.) and we left the venue feeling very content with our experience. We sure as hell can’t wait for the Mad Decent crew to be back next year, and the only thing we can ask for is a cooler day. Thanks to Festival Pier staff and all who helped to put the event together!
[Photo credit: WRM Photography]
[Article by Adam Leopold]
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