July 19, 2013, isn’t just the beginning of the next fun-filled summer weekend. It also serves as the start of the 2013 Mad Decent Block Party tour: 13 dates in 13 cities, spanning two countries, bringing together 50 of the livest artists together under one metaphorical roof. Acts such as Action Bronson, Danny Brown, Riff Raff, Bauuer, and Flosstradamus among others will make appearances on the tour with stops in U.S. cities such as Los Angeles, New York, Philadelphia, and Las Vegas, with two more dates in Canada—Calgary and Toronto. With a list of sponsors that includes Puma, Pepsi, Red Bull and Urban Outfitters, this event has come a long way from “The Mausoleum” on the corner of 12th & Spring Garden Streets in Philadelphia, Pa.
Started in 2008 by Mad Decent label head Wes Pentz, who’s also known as the world famous producer and DJ Diplo, the Mad Decent Block Party has humble beginnings as, well, a block party. The event’s earliest years were a simple feel good Philadelphia experience, and were also some of the first performances for Nadastrom and Flosstradamus, and other popular acts.
“We literally had to go around the neighborhood getting signatures and apply for permits to have the block party,” says Dirty South Joe, who served as one of the early producers of the event during its first two years and is currently the tour DJ for Mad Decent artist Riff Raff. “The neighbors loved it, we’d have free food, water guns for the kids and great music. People from different races and backgrounds would come together just to let their cool down. Philly isn’t known in the music business as a ‘fun’ city; we aren’t known for smiles and good times. But we brought that easy-going environment to the city and to its music culture. It was for the people.”
In its sixth year, Mad Decent aims to make this the event’s the biggest tour yet and a unique experience in itself. Attendees prepare as if they were called for a ritualistic ceremony; staying hydrated, adorned in appropriate footwear, prepared to dance.
You know when you come to a Mad Decent Block Party, you’re in for something special. Great food, free stuff and some of the best live music you’ll hear anywhere. And according to D.S. Joe, the festival’s origins keep it authentic. “No matter where the festival goes, it has that ‘Mad Decent’ feel to it, from the artists to the staff to the crew, we always live with a ‘You don’t know what’s gonna happen next’ type of attitude. It will always have that Philly energy with it, no matter where we go. Guys like Diplo, Major Lazer, [Club DJs] Sega, Sliink, and Swizzymack keep that alive. It’s all we know.”
The tour kicks off this Friday in Calgary, Alberta, Canada and lasts well into September, so if you’ve never attended a Mad Decent Block Party, you should check out where one is coming to a city near you. Just remember, be prepared. You never know what will happen next, but it will be Mad Decent.—Cory Townes
“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.”