Live: Mad Decent Block Party in Philadelphia

Photographer Roger Kisby
August 06, 2012

The fifth annual Mad Decent Block Party presented by Puma took over the Delaware river waterfront in the label's hometown of Philadelphia on Saturday. Fans crowded the stage and surrounding concrete labyrinth for the free, all-ages showcase of Mad Decent’s latest and greatest signees, which began in 2008 and has since expanded to other cities. Dudes wore neon sunglasses and muscle tanks with phrases like "Sex, Drugs & Dubstep" scrawled across the chest while curious jet-skiers circled the water behind the stage, peeping the endless supply of squirt guns, cheese steaks and Heinekens on land. Here's a rundown of the block party's most memorable moments.

During Paul Devro’s opening DJ set, a storm blew in from across the river, echoing his bass drops with real thunderclaps. A gentle rain sprinkled the crowd while girls twerked to Tyga's "Rack City" and a blow up doll on a stick bounced over the audience. Later, in tight black pants and floppy leather hat, Zeb Malik (the founding and only remaining member of Po Po) performed with a new band he called High Power. Malik played a new psych-tinged track, hinted at an upcoming release coming next month through Jeffree's and closed with a joyous, tambourine-shaking rendition of "Let's Get Away" from Po Po's debut LP, Dope Boy Magick.

Charismatic Montreal producer Lunice subverted the DJ-behind-the-laptop cliché by running out from behind his gear and going absolutely nuts, flailing his arms and kicking beach balls with wild abandon. In turn, the crowd went ape for his looped reworks of Waka Flocka's "Fuck the Club Up" and 2 Chainz' "Spend It." Mad Decent's goofy dancing taco mascot joined Lunice's onstage shenanigans, making his set an easy highlight of the day. Reptar, the exuberant five-piece from Athens, Georgia, drove 12-and-a-half hours to play, breaking down in their veggie oil bus along the way. Flanked by the giggle-worthy dancing of guitarist Jace Bartet and long-haired keyboardist William Kennedy, who thrashed around like Animal from the muppets, vocalist-guitarist Graham Ulicny stole the show with his John Mayer-esque grimacing and tongue-wagging.

In a very touching exchange, label boss Diplo jumped onstage with Riff Raff to swap the rapper's signature Icee chain for a new $45,000 Mad Decent piece. Riff performed "Cuz My Gear," "Lil Mama I'm Sorry" and "Brain Freeze" before, in an unfortunate instance of life mirroring his song "Jose Canseco," Riff Raff actually did see a hater and pointed him out. It's unclear exactly what happened, but Riff Raff became furious with a guy who threw something (a bottle?) onto the stage and cut his set short.

Lusty favela funk trio Bonde do Rolê lifted spirits with a dose of freaky energy. Singer Laura Taylor, who recently joined Bonde Do Rolê after winning their MTV Brazil reality show, squirted the crowd with a dildo-tipped water gun before the band finished the set with their super-catchy new single, "Brazilian Boys."

The day culminated in a hyper-stimulating Major Lazer extravaganza. Diplo and Jillionaire took to the stage at sunset in finely tailored suits. Dancers worked the crowd and confetti sprayed everywhere while bass erupted from stage-dominating tower speakers. Diplo got inside a giant plastic bubble emblazoned with a rasta-colored "ML" and walked on top of the audience. A bunch of girls hopped on stage during a bouncy new track from their upcoming LP Free the Universe, but were swiftly booted off by security. After running through "Pon De Floor" and "Get Free," Major Lazer closed with Damian Marley's "Welcome to Jamrock," fireworks twinkling and crackling over the water as the final notes played out. Check out photos from the entire day of wildness below.

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Live: Mad Decent Block Party in Philadelphia