Diplo, Baauer, and Friends Deliver for Philly’s MDBP 2016

Concert Review, EDM, Featured, Hip-Hop/Rap

When someone asks a Philadelphian to name staples of the city of brotherly love obvious boxers, bands, and greasy food groups immediately come to mind. One you may not give a proper nod but undoubtedly should begin to is none other than the renowned Mad Decent Block Party. Starting under a decade ago on the block of 12th and Spring Garden, this festival has come a long way from budding local talent and BBQ. Just last year a collective lineup of powerhouse names like Major LazerDillon Francis, amongst many others traveled nineteen cities filling outdoor venues with 10,000+ people.

Though only eight years in age, Diplo’s MDBP has made a strong case for a top spot in the Philly Hall of Fame. 

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This year’s edition of the MDBP’s homecoming was met with a surplus of preemptive criticism from fans. For one, the festival was reduced from two days back to one. On the base this wouldn’t seem like an extreme deterrent from attending, but once the lineup was revealed and illustrated a lackluster list of artists in comparison to 2015’s unforgettable bill, many were skeptical if the rising ticket price was worth it.

Well, there is a reason why Diplo is the mastermind behind the empire of Mad Decent and this past Saturday put that on a vibrant display. It’s a well-known fact that Philly’s favorable genre of dance music is grimy, sweaty dubstep, trap, and bass. So thanks to the smoldering weather and a few filthy hand-picked performances from Diplo himself, attendees got exactly what they wished for—a good, old fashion block party.

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The atmosphere was unusually serene for a day-long concert of this magnitude. Besides the security line that was commensurate with an international flight, staff working the festival were gracious and accommodating to the heat. There were few alcohol enforcement officers relentlessly targeting anyone in their sight, and there were an abundance of yellow shirts hosing down melting ravers and handing out water to all that needed. A majority of Festival Pier concerts contain scenes of minors using fakes to purchase $15 beers, and then they are swiftly, not to mention suspiciously, approached by security guards that toss them. But Saturday felt the way a real block party is supposed to feel: pure, unadulterated fun.

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Unfortunately I missed Dirty South Joe‘s B2B with Swizzymack and Wax Motif on the account of delaying my imminent melting, but I did start my day with Atlanta’s own Herobust. With his unique take on bass music mixed in with hardcore classics, the flowing stream of festival-goers were smacked with a message that sonically read, “It’s go-time, f*****s.”

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Next up to the plate was Slushii, who was most likely the artist that attendees had no clue of his existence upon entrance, but after his hour of what I can best describe as “sprinkle dubstep” they surely left with his name circulating their SoundClouds. One of the latest edible treats to explode onto the electronic dance music scene has played only a few live sets premiering all the new music he produced over the past year. Slushii has debatably garnered some of the most hype in his respective world of music, and I believe he lived up to the expectations. Although the set felt a little bit on the safe side with predictable vocal mixes, his idiosyncratic soundscape wiped the bad taste out of my mouth.

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Diving deeper into the day brought me face to face with the only artist on this year’s lineup that was not spinning. Rich The Kid has grown into a familiar name in the hip-hop community, but on Saturday his performance was uninspired at best.

Few rappers in this generation have genuinely tapped into my interest based on solely lyricism, so I usually gauge my judgement off of the artist’s ability to engage the crowd. Not only did Rich The Kid’s 30 minute time slot inhibit this, but a shortage in his own discography and a mishap with him losing his chain surely didn’t help. The New York native crowd surfed for a brief moment, which ironically was the only redeeming part of his performance and when he returned to the stage he realized his necklace was missing. After he parted the crowd and scoured the dance floor for the jewelry to no avail, he reluctantly finished his set. At this point any energy left in the crowd vanished with that chain.

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Nightfall hit but the absence of the sun didn’t stop MDBP staff from hosing the front rows. To some this was a wet-dream come alive, but to others it was a heated nightmare without the ability to incessantly Snap and Instagram story their experience. Luckily, both groups of people came together in celebration of the collaboration of Valentino Khan and Party Favor.

Being two artists who could be considered regulars in Philadelphia’s circuit of EDM gigs, their B2B set brought new life to tracks we’ve heard numerous times from them. Party Khan, as they like to be called, brought some much needed intensity to the crowd that at this point had reached maximum capacity. With first dibs at a full-house, these two rising stars played out plenty of new tracks including Valentino Khan’s release with Skrillex and tunes off of Party Favor‘s Party & Destroy EP.

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Philly native Baauer then took his much deserved second headliner spot in his hometown. Coming off a recently released album in Aa, I was shocked when his entrance wasn’t greeted with piercing hollers like I would soon hear during Diplo’s set. But in appropriate Baauer fashion, it was straight down to business.

This performance got my vote for moment of the day and for obvious reasoning. Being a Philly boy, Baauer was able to access his roots and progressively grab onto the crowd’s attention. Songs like “GoGo!” and “Dum Dum” were flawlessly layered below refreshing and nostalgic hip-hop vocals throughout the entire hour. And no, he did not play “Harlem Shake”. Sorry.

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I checked my watch often throughout the day but when I looked up and saw a sea of booties directed at the stage prompted to create a Delaware River tsunami, I was aware it was Diplo time.

Regarded by many as one of the godfather’s of EDM’s re-re-revival and snapchat God in general, Diplo gave his hometown a respectable set filled to the brim with hits. With a discography containing tracks from his Jack U collaborative project with Skrillex and Major Lazer and his solo material, there was absolutely no need for any other artists to be played out. A group sigh was vocalized once “Jumpman” was played for the fourth time in a day at the same stage, but that was likely the only complaint from the crowd. It’s always a thrill seeing Diplo because of his ever-growing collection of industry favorites. I’d also always put him up against the best DJs in the scene right now (skill-wise).

And at the disappointingly early closing time of 11pm, some people headed straight for their beds and others ended up at Voltage or at Monarch Pool for an after-party with the man who makes all of this happen. Wherever you ended up, I know you still have sand stuck somewhere.

Check out the full photo gallery below.

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