Saturday's the Mad Decent Block Party at Revolution Live had its share of good, bad, and mostly predictable moments. By giving away music, being ahead of the curve on streaming and other technologies, and generally going against the grain and being as weird as they want to be, Diplo and the Mad Decent crew have built their own platform and fan base big enough to sell out 13,000 tickets on a random Saturday in the dead of summer.
It’s easy to say that there isn’t much substance to the music they put out or the festival they put on, but by having no allegiance to one sound or style, they can be constantly relevant in the moment. To have this chameleon-like quality is a huge advantage because it means that even if the lineup and the styles of music have changed completely by next year, Mad Decent will just integrate the next hot trend into what is already working for them.
If this is indeed the generation with the shortest attention span in history, then the music featured at Mad Decent is a perfect match – just sing along, drop, jump up and down, repeat. Instant gratification. Rinse and repeat.
The music did not start on the main stage until 6 p.m., with Jauz apologizing for the delay before starting the day’s music by mashing together a set of hip-hop’s biggest tracks (Drake’s “Know Yourself,” A$AP Ferg’s “Work,” 2 Live Crew’s “We Want Some P***y”) and a random assortment of hard bass drops. Over time, they worked out the sound issues, but it was never as loud or as clean as you would expect for such a huge event.
Every artist who played had to literally tell the crowd what to do — even Jack-U: the massive duo of Diplo and Skrillex had to resort to jumping around onstage and telling the crowd when to jump, when to clap, when "to get crazy.” It was a spectacle, and the crowd ate it up.
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Props to Thomas Jack for turning in a great set after being thrown to the wolves (he had to follow Jack U, and there was no MC to announce him). When he started playing, it seemed like it was just the intermission music. It wasn’t until a half hour or so into his set that the light show kicked off, his logo went up on the screen, and the crowd started to dance. He also managed to play three Bob Marley remixes in a one-hour set, which can’t be easy.
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For the rest of the night, the trap kids got their fill from Yellow Claw and Major Lazer. I was in front of the stage when Yellow Claw went on, and a mosh pit of kids in raver gear broke out. The live shows for both looked more like a hip-hop show than an electronic music show — one person actually DJ'ing and the rest acting as hypemen.
So on into the night it went, rain coming down off and on for hours until the music stopped and ravers filtered out until the streets, either heading for another club or, more likely, getting picked up by their parents.
Adam Foster is a South Florida-based DJ and producer, founder of twilightnotes.com, and entertainment director for the Restaurant People. He was named best DJ of 2014 by New Times Broward-Palm Beach. Visit him on Facebook and Soundcloud.