The loudest cheer of the day at the Brooklyn stop on the Mad Decent Block Party circuit was during Grandtheft’s set, when he abruptly cut off the parade of bass diving out of the speakers to ask, “We got any weed smokers out here in Brooklyn?!” The audience erupted like no one had ever understood them quite like Grandtheft did. Finally, they had found a community that would accept them for the social weed smokers they were.
And really, Mad Decent Block party is more about fleshy, intoxicated unity than anything. For seven hours this past Saturday, Coney Island’s MCU Park morphed into an EDM mating ground for anyone over 16 years old (and some definitely below) with a penchant for face paint, neon bikinis and anything mind-altering.
I arrived at the park around 3:20, which is 20 minutes later than the show was scheduled to start. I thought I wouldn’t miss much. Instead, I had to wait on line for 50 minutes, while disgruntled security officers led us through a safety check more thorough than anything I’ve experienced at any airport. We had to remove our shoes and walk in socks down the Coney Island sidewalk as no fewer than two security guards examined the inside of them. When it came time for my bag-check, a thick-jawed security guard removed my water bottle and immediately poured the contents of it onto the sidewalk, all the while gazing at me with a cruel, blank stare. When I expressed annoyance at this, she asked me if I wanted to return to the end of the now-even-longer line. After I declined, she made me reach under my dress and pull my bra away from my body to prove I wasn’t storing a little baggie of cocaine or my dignity in there.
A girl in line behind me expressed concern they weren’t going to get in, to which her friend replied, “Don’t worry, I have my sister’s ID you can use.”
By the time I made it into the stadium, Vic Mensa, the performer I was most excited to see, had already come and gone. But, I thought, there’s so much more to this day! So much more fun to be had!
DJ Snake and Grandtheft were indistinguishable from the pre-recorded songs in between sets (which was mostly just Calvin Harris’s Summer on a loop) and used the same exact samples: Kendrick Lamar’s m.A.A.d City, the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s Heads Will Roll, A$AP Ferg‘s Work and Calvin Harris’s Summer (again!). And yet every time one of those songs started to play, the audience went wild. Like surprised goldfish swimming around their bowl, the audience kept forgetting how much they liked Calvin Harris until they heard it.
Dillion Francis made the audience yell “F-U-C-K” multiple times with the kind of glee usually reserved for the preteen bully in coming-of-age movies. He also said, “I wanna see everyone shake their ass over this shit,” like a parody of Mad Decent Block Party, but totally not a parody.
Here are some other things I saw:
- A dude wearing a shirt that said “TWERK WALL” with an arrow pointing down to his crotch.
- A girl in a sweatshirt, furry Uggs and lace underwear sitting and bouncing up and down on the asphalt, her underwear getting caught on the ground’s loose gravel.
- A girl in a sparkly headband taking a selfie of her butt after someone put a sticker on it.
- Ten stern-faced NYPD officers walking in a line after 200+ people stormed the security gate around the seating area and crashed onto the field.
- Two girls grinding with each other in the emergency tent as their sweat-soaked, inebriated friend groaned on a stretcher next to them.
- A shirt that said, “I’M FROM NEW JERSEY AND YES, I’M AN ASSHOLE.”
- A shirt that said, “I’M A BITCH.”
- French Montanta, who showed up during DJ Snake’s set to do Pop That and Ain’t Worried About Nothin.
Our photographer David Velásquez suggested maybe there was a heavy sense of dread glinting in the sun like a sharp blade underneath all the thumping bass and beat drops, with the audience jumping maniacally in an attempt to forget they were going to die eventually, at a place where they weren’t so far from that fate.
As I sat in the shadow of something inflated, trying to hydrate with my free hose water, a girl next to me asked if I was writing about the show. I said yes.
“You should use the word ratchet,” she offered, “Because that’s what this is.”
Photos by David Velásquez