Celebrating six raucous years of Mad Decent Block Party

Jul 15, 2013

It’s pretty incredible, across the board, what the powerhouse brand started by Diplo has achieved since its 2006 inception. The umbrella, which serves as a platform for releasing music by artists like RiFF RAFF, Maluca, Baauer, Dillon Francis, et al, now extends to a favored network of international Block Parties, and even more impressively from a cultural standpoint, is credited for popularizing “Brazilian baile funk, Angolan Kuduro, and other marginalized music to clubs around the world.”

That’s quite the track record for Wesley Pentz and his carefully curated team; but then again, we shouldn’t be surprised. It’s been clear from the beginning that Pentz (Diplo to his adoring audience) has a fierce talent for curation, whether he’s pairing Snoop with an “enlightened” Rastafarian beat, or the business-savvy label manager Jasper Goggins with the keys to Mad Decent’s vaults.

Carrying on in their tradition of milestones, the Mad Decent Block Party will celebrate six years as a festival destination in 2013, as well as debut in 7 new cities. For the first time, dancers, festival goers, music lovers, media personalities, aspiring producers, DJ’s, local folk, and general loiterers have 13 options across the continent for experiencing Mad Decent’s distinct day of food, music, fun, sun, and bass. Through an in-depth discovery with Jasper himself, we learned about the block party’s origins, its journey to 2013, it’s significance to the artists and fans, and importantly, why the party had to be moved to a ticketed system as part of it’s expansion.

I think the most important thing to understand about [Mad Decent Block Party] is the way that it began, and what it represents. The intent wasn’t to have this giant blow-out; it was just to have a fun day and hang out with friends and play music.” -Jasper Goggins, manager, Mad Decent Records

2008:

Diplo owned this building where they used to make mausoleums, and we called it The Mausoleum. Just this big empty-space building in Philly, and that’s where Mad Decent headquarters were originally. So we wanted to do something for kids in Philly; do something cool in the middle of the Summer that everyone could hang out. The intent wasn’t to have this giant blow-out; it was just to have a fun day and hang out with friends and play music. It obviously just went a lot bigger than that right away.

It did originally start as a simple block party. We got a permit from the City of Philadelphia and it was our neighborhood block party, we put caution tape up, closed it off, got permission from the neighbors and rented some speakers. It was open for everyone.

philamoca 585x365 Celebrating six raucous years of Mad Decent Block Party

The first year, we probably had between 500 and 1000 throughout the whole day.

2009:

Nothing bad ever happened, but the second year it got to a point where we realized we couldn’t just do it on the block in front of The Mausoleum anymore. We needed to have proper security, and gating, and making sure it was a safe event, and making sure everything was ok with the police department and the fire department. It grew on its own beyond what we were anticipating.

On special moments in the block party’s history…

Maluca has played a couple of times and done amazing sets. She always wants to do something different. On the second year she performed on the roof of The Mausoleum. She was like, “We’re going on the roof!”

That same year, Diplo dropped the new Major Lazer stuff and people were going crazy.

2010:

We’ve been pumping it up, too and wanting to get bigger and bigger but every year since the first it’s also grown on its own, organically, into this legitimate live concert event.

So on the third year, we had to bring it to a proper venue where we could have a little bit more control over what was happening. Make sure everything was happening safely. That was the year we also expanded to New York and Chicago.

At that point we teamed up with proper events promotion and production people. We needed a bigger space, a bigger sound system, have staff to check people in, run an RSVP system, sell alcohol, involve proper food vendors -it was just beyond what we could do with the small team we have.

2011:

On special moments in the block party’s history…

Man, there’s been so many amazing moments. The first thing that comes to mind was when we got Mehdi to play at our New York block party a couple years ago before he passed away. It was an amazing set first of all; right in the middle of the day when things were really getting crazy there -it was one of the better block parties in general, just an awesome day. I found out he was in town the night before and I asked my friend, who was really close to him, “Yo, can we see if Mehdi will come and play a secret set?” And it worked out. He came down and played thirty minutes for free, just on the strength of wanting to do something cool. It ende up being an amazing time, and it was obviously really meaningful to all of us involved since he passed away shortly after that. That’s still one of the moments that really sticks with me.

2012:

On special moments in the block party’s history…

20120807 153807 389x585 Celebrating six raucous years of Mad Decent Block Party

There was an Amish guy last year who crowd-surfed at the Philadelphia block party in full Amish gear! That was a big one.

2013:

It’s not like the goal is to make money off of this thing; the reason it had to go to a ticketed system this year is because last year we couldn’t accommodate all the people that wanted to come.

Up until this year, [the block parties have] been free the entire time. It’s not like the goal is to make money off of this thing; the reason it had to go to a ticketed system this year is because last year we couldn’t accommodate all the people that wanted to come. We were doing it as RSVP for entry and first-come-first-served, and it’s very clear how this thing works but there’s always going to be people that want to go but can’t because it’s at capacity and they’re going “I RSVP’d, why can’t I get in?” So to ensure that everybody could go that wanted to go, and to maintain a safe atmosphere, and be able to pay the artists that are playing and the staff that are working, and have good sound -we didn’t have a choice- it had to go to a ticketed model this year.

We added Toronto last year (the fifth year) to make five cities; and this year Mad Decent Block Party will be in thirteen cities. So we added a bunch of new cities this year. Honestly the biggest complaint we get from people is “Why isn’t this in my city?” So we’re trying to bring it to as many people as we can. It’s had a great reaction and it’s something we really enjoy doing, as well. We’re trying to keep it as far away from your normal festival experience as you can get; it’s still a party in the street for the most part no matter where we’re doing these things.

2014 and beyond:

We’ve been planning year seven already. Ideally we’d like to bring it to select cities around the world. We’re trying to put that plan together, but obviously there’s a lot of logistics involved.

Mad Decent Block Party near you:

7/19 CALGARY, AB

18+ Prairie Winds Park 223 Castleridge Blvd. N.E. Calgary, AB
MAJOR LAZER • ZEDS DEAD • DILLON FRANCIS • FLOSSTRADAMUS • BIG GIGANTIC • PAUL DEVRO • SMALLTOWN DJs

7/20 LAS VEGAS

21+ Encore Beach Club – 3121 Las Vegas Blvd. S
DIPLO • ZEDS DEAD • DILLON FRANCIS • ETC! ETC! • TORRO TORRO • PAUL DEVRO • JEROME LOL • DJEMBA DJEMBA

7/26 TORONTO, ON

16+ Fort York 100 – Garrison Rd.
MAJOR LAZER • ZEDS DEAD • RiFF RAFF • GRANDTHEFT • THUGLI • DJ El Dusty

7/27 PHILADELPHIA, PA

All Ages The Great Plaza at Penn’s Landing – Columbus Boulevard bet. Market & Walnut St.
MAJOR LAZER • DILLON FRANCIS • FLOSSTRADAMUS • RiFF RAFF • NADASTROM • DJ SEGA • DIRTY SOUTH JOE • SWIZZYMACK • JAHAN LENNON

8/2 WASHINGTON, DC

All Ages Merriweather Post Pavilion – 10475 Little Patuxent Pkwy.
MAJOR LAZER • ZEDS DEAD • FLOSSTRADAMUS • SBTRKT (DJ set) • SKREAM • RiFF RAFF • ANAMANAGUCHI • GRIZ • LUNICE • DJ SAY WUT

8/3 FT LAUDERDALE, FL

All Ages Revolution Outdoors – 200 W. Broward Blvd.
MAJOR LAZER • ZEDS DEAD • FLOSSTRADAMUS • BIG GIGANTIC • RiFF RAFF • KITO & REIJA LEE • HeROBUST • DZA • ROBB BANK$

8/9 ATLANTA, GA

All Ages Masquerade Music Park – 695 North Avenue NE
MAJOR LAZER • DILLON FRANCIS • FLOSSTRADAMUS • RL GRIME • RiFF RAFF • HeROBUST • KITO & REIJA LEE • SASHA GO HARD

8/10 BROOKLYN, NY

All Ages Williamsburg Park – 50 Kent Ave.
MAJOR LAZER • MATT & KIM • DILLON FRANCIS • FLOSSTRADAMUS • 3BALL MTY • ROCKIE FRESH • DESTRUCTO • KITO & REIJA LEE • DJ SLiiNK

8/31 DALLAS, TX

18+ Club Zouk Outdoors – 703 McKinney Ave.
MAJOR LAZER • DILLON FRANCIS • BAAUER • ACTION BRONSON • FLOSSTRADAMUS • 3BALL MTY • GRIZ • NADASTROM • JUYEN SEBULBA • THE HI YAHS

9/6 DETROIT, MI

All Ages Elektricity Festival Grounds – 10 S. Saginaw St.
MAJOR LAZER • DILLON FRANCIS • BAAUER • KEYS N KRATES • THE PARTY SQUAD • SAMO SOUND BOY • DJ EL DUSTY

9/7 NEW BRAUNFELS, TX

All Ages Whitewater Music Amphitheater – 11860 FM 306
MAJOR LAZER • BIG GIGANTIC • DILLON FRANCIS • BAAUER • FLOSSTRADAMUS • 3BALL MTY • THE PARTY SQUAD • KITO & REIJA LEE • DJ EL DUSTY

9/14 LOS ANGELES, CA

18+ LA Center Studios – 1201 W 5th St.
MAJOR LAZER • MATT & KIM • BIG GIGANTIC • RiFF RAFF • 3BALL MTY • THE PARTY SQUAD • SAMO SOUND BOY • SASHA GO HARD

9/15 SAN DIEGO, CA

18+ Petco Park Lot – 100 Park Blvd.
MAJOR LAZER • ZEDS DEAD • JACK U • BIG GIGANTIC • 3BALL MTY • THE PARTY SQUAD • SAMO SOUND BOY • SASHA GO HARD • SMALLTOWN DJs


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