Having moved its scheduled location from the Palace of Auburn Hills to the Russell Industrial Center, the Mad Decent Block Party comes the city of Detroit on Saturday and brings with it a strong lineup of established and up-and-coming EDM artists.
The Block Party was launched in 2008, a few years after Diplo started the Mad Decent label, and it's since grown larger and larger (the company really got a boost after "Harlem Shake" blew up). Lineups throughout the tour have included heavy-hitters like Major Lazer, Vic Mensa, Skrillex, and Knife Party, but even though Detroit isn't getting any of those guys, the Motor City show will still feature one artist on the verge of pop superstardom and several vets of the EDM circuit along with some solid young guns filling the rest of the slots.
The tour has a "prohibited items" list that's absurdly long and includes objects like balloons, LED gloves, selfie sticks, wallet chains, stuffed animals, and water guns. But even if that means you're solely relying on the music to have a good time, you should be covered.
Of the relatively lesser-known artists, you have ETC! ETC, Daktyl, and Party Favor. Unsurprisingly, all three of these DJs pull off catchy hook-heavy EDM, the kind where if you miss a peak, it's all OK, because there'll be another in less than a minute. ETC! ETC!'s top tracks are heavy on high-pitched beep-filled hooks, featuring collaborations with guys like Diplo, Brillz, and Fox Stevenson. Daktyl's work is slightly more experimental — his 2015 debut record Cyclical is quieter and mellower than a lot of the Mad Decent roster. Meanwhile, Party Favor is best known for its single "Bap U," a streamlined track with a video featuring Seth Green and a descending hook that'll bring you to your knees with its slinky heat.
Moving up on the current relevance scale, the Mad Decent Block Party in Detroit also features sets from Flosstradamus, Keys N Krates, and Zeds Dead. These artists have experienced Michigan crowds as part of Electric Forest, and all are pros who bring their own unique twists to the Mad Decent style. Flosstradamus has been on or near EDM fans' radar for almost a decade now, but his visibility is still growing. The duo's Waka Flocka Flame collab "TTU (Too Turnt Up)" from last year is probably its biggest song so far. Keys N Krates is the closest thing the Block Party has to a true "band," with the trio culling a wealth of worldwide dance influences in its entirely live performances. The group's best songs are infectiously busy, sometimes chaotic parties with playful vocals and hard-hitting percussion. Finally, Zeds Dead has a sound rooted in traditional dubstep, but the sound of the Pulp Fiction-referencing Canadian duo also includes elements of old-fashioned house, breakbeat, and drum and bass.
But to me, the biggest draw at the Block Party is Cashmere Cat. You may not necessarily know him by name, but you certainly know his work, or at the bare minimum the artists he collaborates with. EDM culture can sometimes be closed off from the rest of the music world, with its artists sometimes achieving stratospheric popularity without getting much notice or acknowledgement from mainstream pop culture, but Cashmere Cat seems right on the verge of getting his name on the A-List.
The Norwegian DJ, born Magnus August Høiberg, has worked with Ariana Grande, Charli XCX, Tinashe, and Miguel, all in just the last couple of years. He's also contributed to the Kanye West/Sia/Vic Mensa joint "Wolves" and did production on the surprise viral hit "OctaHate" by Ryn Weaver. However, my favorite thing he's done is "Adore," an anthemic pop song with trap influences that features amazingly breathless "Great Gig in the Sky"-remade-for-top-40 vocals from Grande. Cashmere Cat has hit-making chops, and he clearly has the respect of some of the best artists in music today. But although nobody else on the bill can boast the kind of star-studded work that Cat can, the whole Block Party should be heavy on huge and fast beats, loud percussion and bass, and powerful drops while everyone rides high on some of the top EDM artists in the world.
Starts at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 15 at the Russell Industrial Center; 1600 Clay St., Detroit; maddecentblockparty.com; tickets are $35; ages 16 and older.
Adam Theisen is a summer intern for Metro Times.
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