What do you get when you throw nine artists, whose musical style ranges from pop noise to dubstep, together? You get the third stop of the pioneering Mad Decent Block Party, and what a day it was. Children Of The Night, Trippy Turtle, Wave Racer, Cashmere Cat, Sleigh Bells, Wolfgang Gartner, Dillon Francis, Diplo, and Flux Pavilion took to the stage for a day of thumping beats and anthemic music that kept the crowd dancing at Merriweather Post Pavilion.
A Norwegian native, Magnus August Høiberg, also known as Cashmere Cat, took to the stage and was the first artist of the day to amass a dedicated audience following his multi-continent Wedding Bells tour this past spring. He opened slowly with a teasing, melodic instrumental before fading into recent work. The crowd sang along to his hit remixes of Jeremih’s “773 Love” and 2 Chainz feat. Drake’s “No Lie,” dancing enthusiastically to his studio work (though he didn’t play his upcoming song with Ariana Grande). His first EP, Wedding Bells, featured prominently in his setlist with fan favorites from the “Mirror Maru”-era that helped launch his career just over a year ago. And mad props to the Norwegian girl who patriotically waved the Norwegian flag throughout his entire set.
When Wolfgang Gartner first hit the stage, the crowd seemed to know the real show was starting. Gartner came to the stage and instantly provided some necessary energy to the crowd. He instantly engaged the audience and was into his music, and he knew how to put on a show. His characteristic hard bass and original beat patterns provided the rhythm that set off the Mad Decent Block Party. While Gartner’s music is not heavy on sampling, those that he used were distorted to add a break to his consistent melodic patterns. It broke up the constant beats in a way that turned the electronic artist’s music into original art. Paired with his enthusiasm behind the DJ booth, Gartner’s style proved that he had what was necessary to become a renowned DJ.
Charismatic and goofy, Dillon Francis engaged the crowd throughout his set and kept the energy charged sky-high. Featuring an exceptional LCD-display of I.D.G.A.F.O.S.-stylized middle fingers, emojis, and, of course, cats, his stage presence carried the good vibes of his music to the far corners of the venue. Dillon Francis’ genre mastery showed through as he transitioned through dubstep, trap, pop remixes, the DMV’s own moombahton, and moombahcore, which he helped establish as a subgenre. “Messages” feat. Simon Lord, “Masta Blasta,” “Get Low” feat. DJ Snake, and “Burning Up” rang out before he closed with his remix of Daft Punk’s “Harder Better Faster Stronger” to applause and cheers from the packed field and pavilion.
Finally, the man of the hour hit the stage at Merriweather and set the crowd off. Diplo’s characteristically fun style pervaded the venue and providing an energy that could be felt from the pit to the back of the lawn seating. He came out guns ablaze with remixes to hard-hitting songs like “Love Sosa,” “Work,” and “Drunk in Love”. But that turned out to just be Diplo warming up for some even crazier songs in his arsenal. He continued to play remixes to popular hip-hop songs, showing off his versatility with songs such as “Danny Glover” and D.C.’s Shy Glizzy’s single “Awwsome.” Then, he proceeded into his better-known work both with Major Lazer and in his solo career. Although his video board set up failed to work due to technical difficulties, it did not take away from the experience whatsoever. Even with just lights, Diplo knew how to put on a show. He even came out from behind the DJ booth a couple times and interacted with the crowd through his well-known twerk contests. The widely popular DJ proved to those in attendance that their money and energy spent on coming to the Mad Decent Block Party paid off.
All-in-all, the Mad Decent Block Party was a fantastic event. The energy that each individual act provided built up to a point where it burst into a euphoria that could be felt throughout the venue. Concertgoers seemed to enjoy themselves immensely and as the night progressed and Merriweather filled up near capacity, the fun kept going. However, there is a limit to the fun, and unfortunately, due to drug-related issues, there were many injured and negatively affected by events at the festival that day. It’s unfortunate that such a fun-loving, high-energy event was marred by injuries and two deaths due to suspected overdose. This is not how the Mad Decent Block Party in D.C. should have been remembered as the performers were outstanding and it was a well-run event. Regardless, WRGW extends their condolences to those affected by the issues that occurred during the festival.
— Max Blackman & Helen Jiang