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Sax-y Dubstep, Lax Security, Great Location, and More Thoughts From the Mad Decent Block Party

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By Zach Bourque

Downtown L.A.'s crowded skyline, maze of freeways and general sense of impending cool made it the perfect location for the 2013 Mad Decent Block Party. Headlined by label owner Diplo’s own Major Lazer, the block party really took off this year, touring around the states and—shock!—charging money for admission despite previous years' free-dom.

White guy rapper Riff Raff took to the modest stage nestled between mini skyscrapers under several bridges around 2 and instantly charmed with his sincere lack of shame. With stylized cornrows, BET tattoos and 80s disco shades, Riff Raff is impossible to ignore in the best possible way imaginable. I’d be lying if I said I knew any one of his songs, and frankly they all sounded identical, but his onstage antics were priceless and highly enjoyable. Riff Raff was joined by one of the dudes from Far East Movement briefly for a veritable world tour of light skinned rap before slamming the mic on the stage and knocking over speakers after the venue cut him off at precisely his end time.

With my several stolen free beers from the artists' area proof the security at this venue kind of sucked. The hyper VIP section casually welcomed really anyone that decided to walk up the stairs to the area and this man was happy to oblige. Various others I met had similar stories and lack of credentials.

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While the already exhausted crowd delegated to the shade, Matt and Kim of Matt and Kim took to the stage in what would become the hands down, thumbs up surprise of the day. The Brooklyn duo, who are apparently fucking, straddle the strange border between rock, pop and electronic with surprising ease. Their high energy, smile-inducing music really enforced the beer buzz that had taken over the audience and it was by this reporters rough calculation of 4 p.m. when things started getting weird.

Euro EDM duo PartySquad just seemed out of place. We were happy to have them but they seemed more at home on a Saturday night at Avalon than this particular venue. Clockwork was much more up to speed with his brand of electronic house whatever. Things got way cooler when Dillon Francis showed up unannounced after Clockwork’s set.

And then Big Gigantic played. Best described as saxaphone enforced dubstep, Big G really lit the place up. Far more popular in states other than California, the duo surprised newcomers and left everyone else saying I told you so. With a setting sun, the crowd stepped out of the shade and cut loose for their set. Needless to say it was a blast.

Major Lazer is kind of on fire right now. I have no idea how this band tours the amount that it does but they sure can get it done. In support of their latest album “Free The Universe” the twerktastic electronic ensemble got up amidst a setting sun for the festivals closing set.

I'll never understand the fascination with this group. Loud, obnoxious and borderline annoying, they were a sharp contrast to Big Gigantic to say the least. But as a last ditch martini shot of the day, they got the job done.

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With a revolving lineup of acts across the nation, the Mad Decent Block Party stands as an interesting new addition to the festival landscape. Coupled with the extremely rad location and relatively cheap ticket price, we really hope to see this one next year.