Published Aug 17, 2009The fact that in Philadelphia a $20 application gets you a block party permit is pretty cool. Even cooler is that Mad Decent has taken advantage of the fact, holding the label's second annual block party at its headquarters in a residential neighbourhood in North Philadelphia.
On a day full of heavy bass beats, break dancing, squirt gunning and dunk tanking, DJ Dirty South Joe was spinning well-known hip-hop tracks like Soulja Boy's "Swag On" and GS Boyz' "Stanky Leg" to kick off this celebration of all things Mad Decent, the imprint founded by producer/M.I.A. collaborator Diplo. But with the smoldering sun beating down, most festival-goers ducked for the shade rather than dance. It was when DJ Tameil hit the crowd with a dose of New Jersey club that things finally began getting upbeat. His crew the Brick Bandits, a group of NJ DJs, started a dance battle when Tameil played "Back That Thang Up" from his EP Get Silly, with the crowd getting extra hyped after a club mix of Beastie Boys' "(You Gotta) Fight for Your Right (to Party!)."
Next up was DJ duo Nadastrom, whose rave-style set was full of '90s dance samples and house beats. During a slower song someone yelled "I need a hit of bass!" and sure enough they started a build-up synth teaser, cut the music and the crowd loudly sighed, though within seconds Nadastrom hit with a thunderous bass rhythm and everyone screamed. By the end of the set, the audience was full of sweat and reeked of spilled beer.
A little later, Philly locals Popo played in a basketball court, breaking out their brand of psychedelic punk with distorted guitars and vocals that replaced booty-shaking with head-banging. After they finished, all eyes diverted to the Mad Decent headquarters' roof as New York City's Maluca rapped over meringue beats and her back-up dancers gyrated like they were from the '80s. Her performance lacked energy, and didn't engage the crowd, opting to stick to one corner of the roof as Maluca's vocal delivery came off as whiny. On the plus side, the electro-meringue sound did have something going for it.
By dusk, everyone was getting antsy for Major Lazer. The electro dancehall duo of Diplo and Switch released one of the summer's hottest hits "Hold the Line" featuring Santigold and Mr. Lexx. The set started out solid but some side-dancing by DJ Skerrit Bwoy was distracting. Standing on one of the speakers, Skerrit Bwoy attempted to hype up the crowd but his obnoxious yelling and air thrusting was pretty gross. At one point, a woman got up on the speaker and he started humping her from behind and threw her around like a rag doll. Although Major Lazer was rocking the crowd, watching a dude play a woman's bum like conga drums is never appealing.