Mad Decent Block Party started in Philadelphia in 2008 as a small-scale free event and has evolved into a multi-city tour with many big name artists. The tour features different artists at each stop of the tour with a focus on edm and hip hop acts. This year the festival has grown as it makes its way to 22 cities compared to 13 cities last year. For the first time the tour made its way to Berkeley, CA at the William Randolph Hearst Greek Theatre, which is operated and owned by the University of California, Berkeley. This outdoor concrete amphitheater venue contains beautiful Greek architectural facades, is situated on campus, and is surrounded by tall gorgeous trees. People from all areas of the Bay flock to this venue for to witness epic shows of all kinds and FestPop writers Chris Rozzo and Elmer Dulla were able to attend this one. Mad Decent brought an amazing line up featuring Cashmere Cat, STRFKR, Flosstradamus ft. Waka Flocka, Fat Boy Slim, Dillon Francis, and Mad Decent founder Diplo, to showcase what a dance party is all about.
Heading to the venue from San Francisco ended up taking quite a bit longer than expected due to Friday night traffic, which can be tough to plan around. Elmer got to the venue by getting a ride through Uber, which is a great service if you plan on partying and need to get somewhere. Once arriving at the venue the wait time to get tickets and get in was not bad considering the show was sold out and you could hear the music coming from the stage. Unfortunately, due to the traffic both of us missed the opener, Cashmere Cat, but talking with people who got there early enough had only good things to say.
Once inside the crowd was already enjoying themselves with the hip STRFKR performing their hits on stage with their cool costumes. I cruised around the venue to get a good feel of its amenities. For an all-ages show, the venue seems to be filled with an 18+ age group. I did not see any kids or handicap-designated areas. There were areas with portable toilets and concessions serving food, beer and wine. I was not able to find any liquor vendors, but since it was in a collegiate setting it makes sense that they did not facilitate the sale of hard alcohol. There were also two merchandise booths selling Mad Decent gear and a selection of stuff from each artist that was playing.
After walking around I see everyone headed towards the pit for Flosstradamus. Flosstradamus comes out with an incredible stage presence and is highly loved by the crowd. Flosstradamus is known for the exquisite trap music sets. The duo based out of Chicago gets the crowd going hard and the increasing amounts of marijuana smoke in the air was a good signifier that it was time to party. As the Flosstradamus flags waved a guest jumps on the stage. It’s Waka Flocka Flame, a popular rapper from Atlanta, Georgia. When they drop their song Mosh Pit you can imagine how crazy the crowd got. The intensity of the crowd grew and the sun started to set. The beautiful Greek Theatre architecture slowly fades with the sunlight and amazing visuals come from the stage to take over the night sky.
Next up is Dillon Francis. He is a producer/DJ from LA and his popularity has grown enormously in the last 2 years. He is well known for his almost ridiculous stage presence with his incorporation of internet meme and cat visuals. Dillon starts off his set announcing he is going to play some unheard, fresh, new music. It’s a little different from his moombahton type of music and has a lot more melodic aspects. After easing the crowd with his new song, which is most likely going to get remixed into another club banger, the Dillon Francis everyone has grown to love starts dropping heavier tracks and gets everyone jumping off their feet. When he drops his song “Get Low” the whole crowd got down to the ground waiting to jump when the bass dropped. The sound and visuals coming from the stage were on point and definitely adding style and grace to the show. The set was so fun I didn’t even notice that an hour has passed and that the next performer was up.
Fatboy Slim took the stage and not having seen him since his “Praise You” music video on MTV a long time ago, I was excited to see what he had to offer to this block party. He starts off with “Praise You” and definitely gets down spinning some house with the crowd loving his music. He immediately switches it up and gets the energy levels up with some big house bass, mixing it with his originals, which got the crowd singing along out loud. While he dropped his newer hit “Eat, Sleep, Rave, Repeat” he also mixed in older hits like “Funk Soul Brother”, which may have gone unnoticed had the crowd been any younger. The variety that Fatboy Slim brought to the table was a great touch. As Fatboy Slim ended his set the Greek Theatre went silent knowing what was coming up next.
Finally it was time for the legendary Diplo to take the stage. The crowd literally lost their minds and Diplo did his thing. The energy that he brings is insane. Since the show was in the Bay Area he mixed in some Bay Area hip hop. If you’ve heard him before you know he also loves to drop new songs and lesser known producers along with songs from fellow Mad Decent producers. At one point Diplo brought about 20 girls on stage and there was a massive dance off of all these beautiful girls twerking or at least trying to while Diplo played on. The crowd was loving the interaction and cheered on the girls on stage. The famous Diplo kept the crowd going with some tunes from his other project Major Lazer and continued to thank the crowd and rest of the artists for being involved in the tour. The crowd continued to rage right up until the end and most even stuck around expecting an encore that didn’t happen.
Overall Mad Decent did an incredible job with the lineup and controlling the flow of the party. The Greek Theater in Berkeley was an amazing venue and I felt that the people who were working there were very helpful and genuine. Of course with any touring festival the experience varies by location, which adds to it by giving everyone a localized experience. The Mad Decent Block Party tour is over this year, but be sure to look out for it next year, as it can only get bigger and better.
Written by FestPop Staff Writer Chris Rozzo Send Comments to: Press@FestPop.com