July 24th, 2013
When I heard Calgary was to be included in this year’s round of Mad Decent Block Parties, I thought to myself, is Calgary finally cool? Alongside cities such as Las Vegas, Toronto, L.A., Detroit, Brooklyn, and Philly, I felt pretty spoiled to even be a blip on Diplo’s radar, let alone to be one of 13 cities to play host to this crazy party. The entire Mad Decent roster is highly regarded as one of the best in electronic music and having a chance to attend a Block Party in your own city and witness the talent in person was a treat.
Hosted by Hifi and Union Events, the Block Party took place at Prairie Winds Park. Luckily, the C-Train actually goes that far, and the location turned out to be fairly accessible by transit. Also advantageous was the proximity of the airport, which seemed to cancel out some of that famous PK bass with frequent low flying jets. Arriving at the venue, the party was in full swing. Apparently no one under the age of 30 works Friday afternoons during festival season, as there was already a pretty big dance floor and crowd in the beer gardens when I arrived well before rush hour. The organization of the festival site seemed to be all in order, which is standard procedure for Union Electronic. There were enough cash machines, food trucks, and service to avoid super long lineups, definitely important when the average changeover between artists seemed to only be one to two minutes.
On the menu music wise at Calgary’s Block Party were Smalltown DJs, Mad Decent Creative Director Paul Devro, Boulder, Colorado’s Big Gigantic, trap demigods Flosstradamus, moomba superstar Dillon Francis, Canadian boys Zeds Dead, and last, but not least, Major Lazer.
Now, say what you will about the trap movement, but Flosstradamus are two of dance music’s rising stars. The rise of trap has led to a plethora of terrible tracks that have been released in quick succession, which happens whenever a new genre blossoms, but Flosstradamus have managed to remain at the forefront of the new movement with amazing music. That’s why I was really sad when something happened during their set and the music stopped. Things got rolling again, but then it happened again. And again, right when they were about to play Rollup, which is obviously the worst thing to happen during the climax of a set. The problem was apparently a problematic Macbook Air, as was said on the mic by J2K.
The rest of the day’s music went off without a hitch and everyone played amazing sets. Zeds Dead’s Nina Simone remix was the standout among the excess of bass heavy tracks from the Toronto duo that they’ve become famous for. Just beginning their massive tour which sees them hit multiple countries around the globe until the end of October, the duo is gearing up for one of their biggest tours of their young careers and if the tour comes through your city, don’t miss out.
As for Major Lazer…words can hardly describe. If you haven’t seen a Major Lazer show, you should go. Between their twerk dancers, Diplo crowd surfing in a big bubble, confetti guns, neon powder covering everything within 10 feet of the stage, appearances by the Major Lazer mascot, whistles, and carnival dancers, the group put on one of the best shows Calgary will see all summer long. It’s not a showcase of world class ability behind the CDJs like a Carl Cox performance is, or a showcase of genius work in the studio like a deadmau5 performance is, it’s simply an amazing party.
Some of my favourite moments definitely included the dancers taping a young man to the stage and having their way with his face, the Andy C remix of Get Free, and Jillionaire trying, but failing, to toss out whistles. In fact, photographer Charlotte Dobre captured an image of me that pretty much summed up my whole night. I had an amazing time!
I can only hope Diplo and co. had enough of a good time to schedule another Calgary stop next year. A big thanks to Hifi and Union for making this go off without a hitch! Also big ups to PK Sound, the sound was excellent as usual!
Words by K. Lea