An audience over 6,500 filled the The Great Plaza, located on Philadelphia’s Penn’s Landing Waterfront, coming together for the 2013 Mad Decent Block Party tour. The festival was a clash of cultures, as glow stick-wielding Ravers jammed side by side with Hood By Air, Supreme, and Jordan-wearing hipsters.
“Look at the crowd outside, everyone’s represented. There is no label for this,” Mad Decent artist Riff Raff, who also performed during the show, said. “Originality is where it’s at.”
The outside grounds were littered with food vendors and tour sponsors such as UrbanEars and Puma. There was a Who’s Who of cultural influencers and musical artists backstage, but the atmosphere was anything but industry. Words like “family,” “energy,” and “creativity” were typical responses from artists asked to define what the label name means. Old friends reconnected while new friends exchanged ideas, manifesting the spirit of the Mad Decent culture. Internet entrepreneur and clothing designer 40 Oz. Van spoke about supporting the culture that shows love to him.
“It’s beautiful out here. I don’t feel like I’m seeing an artist," he said. "I’m out here to show love to my friends performing, whether it’s for an hour or 15 minutes. It’s all organic, it’s all real.”
Mad Decent affiliates and Philadelphia native sons Swizzymack, Dirty South Joe and DJ Sega kicked off the show. High-level energy filled the amphitheater packed with people that tour creator, and one-third of House Music group Major Lazer, Diplo descried as “getting turnt.” Girls with jean shorts and glowing necklaces were twerking to bass heavy trap records and the fast-paced Philly Club music. Patrons scaled the tall towers located throughout the venue to get a better look at the show and claim 15 minutes of fame high above the crowd. The vibe from the event was always ascending. Turn down for what?
DC natives Nadastrom took the event to another level, spraying water into the crowd and inviting some of the female partygoers on stage to join them in the festivities. Trap music power duo Flosstradamus and EDM upstart Dillon Francis continued to captivate the crowd with 45-minute sets that blended the bass and drum patterns of hip-hop music with the synthesizers of electronic music, creating something totally different, something genre-defining.
Major Lazer closed the show with an appropriate climax: 60 minutes of crowd surfing, streamer cannons, and a fusion of traditional Dancehall riddims with underground House and Electronic music. One lucky kid even found himself straddled by dancers. As the crowd demanded more, Mad Decent proved that the best live shows are an experience. Major Lazer gave all that it could before sending everyone home.
What started on a small street in Philadelphia and has expanded into a 13-city international tour, the Mad Decent Block Party's return to where it all began always carries a different feel to it.
“There’s no other place in the world in which an entire block will shut down and its residents will have a party like it’s a normal thing like we do in Philly,” Diplo said. “The city embodies the Mad Decent Block Party experience, and we do our best to take that with us all over the world. All we aim to do is keep it organic and real, break down barriers and continue to share what we do to the world. ”
Cory Townes is a Digital Content Producer born and raised in Philadelphia, Pa. His work has been featured in Vibe.com, The Grio, and other media publications. For more of his work, visit www.CoryTownes.com and follow him on Twitter at @CoryTownes.