Mad Decent Block Party 2016 in Toronto

Photographs by Katrina Lat.

What started out as a small BBQ in Philadelphia has grown into a yearly North American tour showcasing the best acts and affiliates of the infamous Mad Decent label. The Mad Decent Block Party has found its annual home at the Historic Fort York grounds, with the exception of 2012 when it was held as a free show at Yonge & Dundas Square, in the past such well known acts like Flosstradamus, Yellow Claw, Riff Raff and What So Not have touched the Mad Decent stage here in Toronto. 

Coming in from the front gates, clans of people sprawled out along the grass giving the once country defining battleground a relaxing and chill atmosphere. The music was loud enough to cover the grounds with its lively sounds but also considerate so that it doesn’t drown out any potential conversation and wouldn’t garner any noise complaints to the surrounding condos. 

Standing in front of the ones and twos was Toronto native Grandtheft when I first walked into the audio fog. As I made my way through the grounds and into the crowd, I couldn’t help but bounce along to the infectious hip hop and trap sounds coming out of the speakers. Grandtheft dropped heavy hitting trap anthems like RL Grime’s remix of The Weekend’s The Hills and Rick Ross’ Suicide Squad track, Purple Lamborghini, to really hype up the crowd. He gave a shout out to local hip hop brothers in arms Keys n Krates by having the crowd put up ones in the air for their infamous collaboration track Keep it 100. By the end of his set, the crowd was waiving along to the chill vibes of his track with Major Lazer called Number One. 

Without delay, the trio consisting of LA duo Slander & NGHTMRE took to the stage and caught everyone’s undivided attention with an intro tease of the vocals of their collaboration track Gud Vibrations before instantaneously switching it up with some mind blowing trap infused dubstep. The crowd was loving every second of the collaborative trio’s set by matching their hard tunes and almost punk sounding vocal hype with some eager reactions to what the guys were throwing down, both physically and vocally. It was practically hard not to embrace Slander & NGHTMRE’s set with face melting tracks like NGHTMRE’s Street VIP, GTA’s Break Your Neck and Slander’s remix of Jack U’s Mind. But it was not all hard trap music as they mixed in a few classic tracks including Aerosmith’s Don’t Wanna Miss a Thing & Biz Markee’s Just a Friend along with some more flowy trap sounds that Slander’s known for. To close their set, Slander & NGHTMRE played the song that was teased at the very beginning leaving the crowd with lasting gud vibrations. 

Next up, the leader of the mellogang and highly anticipated DJ Marshmello let his presence known with a bass banging intro of Know Me before going into his energetic remix of Avicii’s Waiting for Love. The LED helmet wearing, anonymous DJ brought good vibes with his signature sounds of light, poppy & majestic bass banging sounds and whimsical visuals including a flying unicorn and little marshmello traversing the world. The DJ dressed in all white knew how to keep the uplifting mood with his genre bending set. 

Closing out the evening was the commander in chief of Mad Decent himself; Diplo. His presence alone sparked the crowd in a frenzy and his song selection kept them moving. From the island vibes of Major Lazer to the hard sounds of Jackal and 4B, the audio aficionado pulled out an impressive repertoire of high energy tracks. The show abruptly closed midway through Where Are U Now with the sound and lights cutting off right at 11, leaving the crowd wondering if the block party was truly over. Although there were some minor gripes such as the modest sound system and abrupt ending, this year’s Mad Decent Block Party was festive and enjoyable to say the least.

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