Early in the day before the Mad Decent Block Party, I checked the weather and realized it would probably be raining in Fort Lauderdale, where the event was held, at the time of the block party. I arrived in time to catch the third artists playing, Kito and Reija Lee. They played to an enthusiastic crowd, considering it was completely overcast and had already been raining for about an hour. That didn’t stop them from putting on a show, with Reija’s vocals bringing a unique pop feel to Kito’s bass heavy beats. As Reija took the mic with her and danced up and down the stage, it wasn’t long before Kito stepped away from the booth and joined her. Their set ended with Reija standing on the row of speakers in front of the stage, and Kito right behind, reaching into the crowd getting as close as they could to their fans.
By the time Riff Raff got on stage along with two guests and enough drank for him and his friends to sip on, the rain had stopped and the crowd had grown. In stark contrast to the pop-dubstep duo who performed earlier, Riff Raff brought to the block party a combination of free-style rap and heavy trap beats. His set included free-styling from not only himself, but also from a fellow rapper who remained on stage with him for most of his performance. As expected Riff Raff’s latest single “DOLCE & GABANNA” off his unrealeased album NEON iCON made it into his set, combining Riff Raff’s rap lyrics with beats by DJ Carnage.
Switching up the sound once again, Big Gigantic brought the focus away from the vocals of Riff Raff and onto their live instrumental stylings. While Jeremy Salken was on the drums, Dominic Lalli threw down a slew of electronic beats and topped off the performance by jumping on the saxophone throughout the set. With no specific genre tagged to them their sound combined elements of dubstep and electronica, along with a hint of trap.
As the time came for Major Lazer to take the stage, a white sheet was lowered to allow for the crew to change the stage set, and this also helped to get the crowd’s hype up. Their set was the only set to begin after dark, and they took full advantage of this. Once the sheet dropped a combination of lights coming only from the back of the stage and fog revealed only the shadows of the three members. Within minutes it was clear that this would undoubtedly be the most involved set, and it was. Diplo began by tossing whistles into the crowd, and soon whistles turned into brand new headphones as Jillionaire stayed behind the booth. Taking it to another level, Walshy Fire sent Diplo off crowd surfing in a large bubble, throwing the fans into a rage.
Sticking mostly to their dancehall tunes off their recently released album Free the Universe, Major Lazer knew the crowd they were performing to and gave them what they wanted. Some singles included “Watch Out for This”, “Sweat”, which featured Laidback Luke, “Mashup the Dance”, and a remix of “Get Free” of their EP “Lazer Strikes Back Vol. 1”. When Jillionaire began to bring in the song “Bubble But”, which peaked at number six on the Billboard Dance / Electronic Digital songs chart, he cut it short. Diplo and Walshy Fire, continuing to involve the crowd in their performance, said they would need some volunteers for the track and hand picked about a dozen girls to get on stage. Once the girls were on stage, the moment was right to bring back in “Bubble But”. Throughout the rest of the performance the trio continued to involve the crowd, at one point tossing out packets of colored powder and directing them to swing them in the air once the beat dropped, causing massive clouds of colored powder to cover the crowd.
Although the scheduled time for Major Lazer’s set to end was ten, the show was still on in full force by ten twenty. With this extra time they included “Pon de Floor” into the mix, a track off their 2009 album “Guns Don’t’ Kill People… Lazers Do”. This made me quite ecstatic, and I couldn’t help but dance to the track that had originally triggered my interest in Major Lazer. Even though they went over time, when the music stopped the crowd almost immediately began chanting ‘One more song!”, and it seemed Major Lazer was more than happy to oblige. Closing their set off after their encore, Major Lazer played “One Love” as a farewell to the crowd, which felt like an appropriate homage to their reggae tracks off their most recent album which did not get much play time during their performance.
Overall the Mad Decent Block Party was great in providing a unique combination of several different takes on electronic music, from melodic pop vocals with dubstep bass and freestlye rapping with trap beats to a live saxophone in the mix and epic dancehall tunes. If any attendees went solely for one artist, they definitely left with an appreciation for the different ways in which bass can be interpreted. And had anyone there been doubtful that this event may be drowned out by the rain, they’ve learned that South Floridians know how to do it better, in the rain.