Flocks of party-ready New Yorkers migrated to Coney Island for the 3rd annual Mad Decent Block Party, rocking their best neon, mesh jerseys, Trap font lettering and booty shorts proclaiming their love of twerking. I was wearing none of that, but the plurnt (peace, love, unity, respect and turnt) vibes ensured I fit right in with the rest of the crowd. The lineup was an epic array of the best Mad Decent affiliates. Vic Mensa, Grandtheft, DJ Snake, Dillon Francis, Big Gigantic, Diplo and Flosstradamus all hit the same stage under the lights of the iconic Astro Tower. I knew I had to go, even if it meant making the trek from Bushwick down to Coney Island.
When I pulled up in the dented mini van Bushwick Car Service blessed me with, the first thing that hit me was the crowd outside the venue. The security line was epic, snaking around the stadium and delaying my entry by an hour. Part of the problem was the fact people were forced to remove their shoes and shakeout their bras – a demeaning and needless precaution. This meant me, and a lot of other fans, missed Vic Mensa. I was disappointed, but once I entered the venue all thoughts of frustration flickered away. The roller coaster was bright orange against the clear blue sky, and the sun was shining and the epic Astro Tower was a perfectly trippy backdrop. Grandtheft threw down a solid set, getting people into the party mood. The highlight was the trapwave anthem “Keep it 100,” which ended his hour long set. People were getting way down low in broad daylight, showing the wide appeal of the bouncy song.
The party really began when DJ Snake hit the stage. The French DJ destroyed the venue – literally. During hit set, which included “Bird Machine” and his remix of “Stay the Night,” hundreds of people who were relegated to the “seated” area began to rush the stage. First, it started with a few brave souls jumping the barricades and dashing past security into the coveted “pit” area. But at some point, the entire seating section decided it was all or nothing. Hundreds of kids sprinted across the barricades like a wave of neon, running past security into the bigger crowd near the stage. This made the whole vibe very “1789 France,” with kids running toward the bigger dance party, twerking their way to freedom.
Now the crowd was twice as large, and the sun was still high in the sky – the perfect time for Dillon Francis to get everyone dancy. Assisted by internet-friendly visuals featuring dancing emojis and photoshopped cats, Dillon slayed, capitalizing on the revolutionary energy of the barricade break. The highlight was when none other than the HAAANN master himself French Montana made a guest appearance, singing about 4 versions of pop that. He reveled in his catchphrase, inciting a call and response of HAAANN and apparently not wanting to leave the stage.
After Dillon it was time for some live instrumentals with Big Gigantic. The duo’s horns and drums added analog musicality. I never in my life thought I would hear something I could classify as “Trap saxophone” but I did, and this was all because of Big Gigantic.
At this point people were starting to drop like flies. An impromptu area of relative quiet and calm was established behind some of the medical tents, where blissed out ravers sat on the concert and held eachother. There was also a free standing shower sponsored by iHome. This quickly became a sprayed-down party, where kids danced in the gentle rainfall of recycled water.
But then the true master of ceremonies took over. Diplo walked casually onto the stage, shouting out Brooklyn and thanking the crowd. He proceeded to drop a set that mixed in new songs from his album Random White Dude Be Everywhere with older tracks and Major Lazer songs. While tracks like “Revolution” obviously slayed, the Major Lazer section really got people going, dropping it low as the moon began to rise in the sky. Diplo is known for his friends, and tonight was no exception. After a short appearance by the Rae Sremmurd aka the “No Flex Zone” kids, He asked “Is Jersey in the house?”. I braced myself for bedsprings. I was not disappointed as he brought out rapper Dougie, whose track “Jasmine” by DJ Sliink is a perfect mix of Jersey Club and hip hop
The next surprise was Brooklyn’s own Kieza, who jumped on stage with her dancers to before her housey hit “Hideaway.” Her moves were flawless, and she stage presence certainly won her some new fans.
After her short set, people ran up to her in VIP, asking for selfies. This furthered my theory that selfies are the new autograph, and speaks volumes about the personalization of the celebrity experience. Kieza obliged them happily, taking as many smartphone shots as the kids wanted.
Diplo ended his set with an epic nod to the internet sensation Bobby Shmurda (of shmoney dancing fame). “This is my last song” he announced and dropped Hot Nigga. Those in the know went wild, shmoney dancing and throwing hats in the air.
The final act of the night was Flosstradamus. It was dark. There was a full moon, red lasers, and lots of trap. Anyone who had made it to this hour of the festival was beyond turnt. All the happy ravers filed out slowly as the harder beats began. The duo came out raging, weaving Waka Flocka into piecing and assertive sound effects. They played the “Work” Remix, a heavy edit of “Roll Up” and even old school hip hop cuts like “Ante Up”. At this point all the banging and drilling began to blend together, but in a good way like when chocolate and vanilla ice cream melt together.
By the end of the show, everyone at Mad Decent had been reduced to sticky puddle, energized by music but drained of all life force. This is how a 6 hour long electronic extravaganza should end, so I wasn’t mad. After a day living off overpriced pretzels, icys and trap music, I felt better than expected. And the memories of a dark red stage, packed with people and pulsing with sounds was well worth the test of endurance.