Mad Decent Block Party
With Major Lazer, Zeds Dead, Riff Raff, Robb Bank$, and others.
Revolution Live, Fort Lauderdale
August 3, 2013
As two o'clock approached this past Saturday, a black sky pressed down on downtown Fort Lauderdale. Hundreds of half-naked youths swarmed the downtown area, readying themselves for the annual Mad Decent Block Party. They caused traffic to slow and then halt as they crossed Broward Boulevard by the neon dozen.
The party people wrapped themselves around the fenced-in lot that belongs to Revolution Live, snaking back down SW Second Avenue and around the block that makes up the infamous Himmarshee Village. A couple of gray-haired locals headed to a quiet lunch on Las Olas might have wondered if the end-days had finally arrived.
By three in the afternoon, a continuous rain fell, neither a spitting drizzle nor downpour. Somewhere in the far distance it thundered as the queue inched its way forward. From the street outside, you could already see an occasional body surfing over a crowd of hands raised into the air.
The windows of our car rattled as we desperately sought a place to park. The Block Party drew us in, like mosquitos to the light on a dank evening in the swamp. On the sidewalk just outside Revolution, vaporous clouds of cigarette smoke lingered underneath the awnings that provided shelter for those who still had yet to make it beyond the entrance gates into the mini-music festival. Their expressions were unfazed, their ass cheeks hanging out of metallic booty shorts.
The crowd in front of the main stage, which had been erected in the venue's parking lot, was already dense and radiating with the energy of a thousand young, damp bodies. Healthy lines formed at the Heineken and barbeque tents. Shirtless boys in baggy shorts and baseball caps stomped through puddles, working their arms as in ceremonial dance.
Miami's DJ DZA -- a relative newcomer to the Mad Decent label family and later addition to the Block Party lineup -- was up on deck. He brought a tasty set of bass-heavy hip-hop to the stage, something akin to what you'd hear at the incredibly popular weekly party he helped launch at Grand Central Miami, Peachfuzz.
Those seeking drier ground flocked to the cool darkness of Revolution's inside, where bartenders in full rave gear served up more drinks and a smaller but growing crowd danced to music that changed gears from Hot Chip to Benny Bennassi. There was only one set of indoor restrooms open to the public on the second level. And while the bottleneck effect made getting upstairs each time a mission, the crowd remained for the most part conscientious, with the risk of so many people on the slippery floors being impossible to ignore.
By 4:30, the EDM was in full swing outside. Atlanta's HeRobust had taken the stage, his bouncy, screeching dubstep taking the energy level of the crowd up a few notches. Girls in matching crowns of flowers were smiling, licking their lips, and grinding their jaws as they danced. One guy in the crowd allowed his expression to turn sour after his full beer was knocked to the ground, but only for a moment. The regret passed, his smile returned, and he promptly returned to dancing. Three hours in, spirits remained high.
Next up, Houston whiteboy-rapper and bizarro social media maven Riff Raff, otherwise known as Jody Highroller, took the stage to massive cheers from the crowd as he showered the front row with champagne. Dressed head-to-toe in Neff gear and a neon windbreaker, Riff let his long hair down for this show. His voluminous blond locks floated in the breeze as he bounded from one side of the stage to the other.
His set was brief, only four or five songs long, and ended with "Cuz My Gear," a track he collaborated on with Chief Keef. "Holograms on my hand gave me a tanned wrist/Diamonds dancing on my fist look like a blank disc," the rapper sang into the mic. Each time he sang "Bang bang" with his strange Houston urban drawl, the crowd went wild. And just as soon as he'd come, he was gone, jogging off stage and down the stairs back to the Mad Decent lounge.
When questioned who they'd come to see, most of the concert-goers told us Zeds Dead, Major Lazer, and of course, specifically, Diplo. Some had come from as far as Orlando to get in on the Mad Decent action. "Are you going to EDC?" they asked us. An all-ages crowd of young and old, locals and out-of-towners, we were dealing with some serious slaves to the rave. Five hours in, energy levels were reaching their peak as Zeds Dead took the stage and delivered a satiating set of drum 'n' bass and dubstep, with some jungle and house beats sprinkled in for flavor. The rain finally subsided, and as night fell, glow-sticks and pulsating LED accessories pushed points of rainbow light against the darkness.
It was approaching 9 p.m. when Major Lazer finally took the stage. Although the night was nearing its end, and the indoors had cleared out substantially, a sopping but dedicated crowd still remained to watch Diplo, Miami's Walshy Fire, and Jillionaire go crazy in front of a crew of twerking backup dancers. Dressed in a black suit with sneakers, Diplo fired off canons of smoky streamers into the crowd. The party vibes still hadn't faded. A couple behind us offered leftover substance from their palms. "Lick it off!" they urged.
By 9:30, the doors to Revolution's indoors had been closed and locked up in preparation for the after-party with Zeds Dead, set to begin at 10 for those with the stamina to keep going. As for us, it had been a long, wet day, but a good one nonetheless. Despite the bad rapp Fort Lauderdale gets, and the rain, the Mad Decent Block Party was surprisingly well-organized and drama free. People clearly came out for a good time, and any bad attitudes were left at the door. Girls in furry boots and braces co-mingled with dredlocked raver rastas and stoner types And while the party was no longer free as in years past, the vibe still was. We left thoroughly convinced: Diplo definitely knows how to throw a good party.
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