Mad Decent Block Party L.A. 2010 (+ pics)

Kid Sister throwin it down at the Mad Decent Block Party L.A.

Mad Decent, a Philidelphia-based record label headed by Diplo, has put on block parties in Philly for the past couple years, but 2010 is the first time that it’s taken the show on the road. This year they’re hitting up three more cities. So far they’ve hit Philly and New York, and next weeks they’ll be off to Chicago, but today the show descended on L.A.

When we got to the “Premier Events Center”, which was essentially a city block in the gentrified part of downtown a few seconds from skid row, not too much was going on. We wandered around a bit, sat on the curb and talked, and made our way to the stage once Maluca started her set. I’ve heard of Maluca before, but never listened to her music. I’d liken it to Buraka Som Sistema, but the fact that my knowledge of anything characterized as “experimental tropical punk, ghettotech and hip-house” is quite limited, that might be a cheap comparison. Anyways, her set was great. She had two dancers up on stage, which gave the show some personality and livened up what could have turned run-of-the-mill very quickly (not that her music isn’t intriguing, but one girl and a DJ on stage aren’t much to look at.)

Next up was Bosco Delrey, who played a solid mix of harsh guitars and electronic beats for a while. One thing that I noticed about his songs (at least in a live setting) was that they were fairly long. Most artists making this kind of music tend to stick to 2/3 minute jams without really developing the ideas behind their songs. Delrey played songs that were 5/6 minutes long and had some actual heft to them.

Theophilus London followed up Bosco Delrey, and while his indie brand of hip hop was pretty great, the fact that Kid Sister came up right after him sorta made him fade away. Kid Sis was the surprise guest of the evening and did a short set consisting of “Big ‘n Bad,” a new song that I didn’t recognize, and “Pro Nails.” It was short but sweet, and she brought all of the energy she usually does to the stage.

Paul Devro came up next, and we stayed to enjoy dancing to Major Lazer’s “Pon The Floor,” a remix of Big Boi’s “Shutterbug,”  and some other electro songs I couldn’t quite place. Oh yeah, Andy Milonakis was on and off stage all day. Maybe it’s because of this. After that we got out things together and headed out. Now I’m off to a Hercules & Love Affair show!

Converse Rock Star Ads

julian casablancas, santigold, and pharrell williams
julian casablancas, santigold, and pharrell williams

You know an amazing ad campaign the moment you see one. The one’s you have to think about can be good, but I don’t think that an effective ad doesn’t need to be pondered much. Converse’s recent ads featuring both dead & alive pop culture icons has been blowing me away since I first saw an image of it back a few months ago.

These ads break everything down to basics, while staying far away from any abstraction. The black and white photographs are perfect and just further the idea of simplicity that the ads convey. But the thing that really sends it over the edge (and makes them shoe ads) is the overlapping of each icon’s feet. It might be cliche, but it’s very fitting that what connects these artists is their shoes.

When showing other people these ads, they don’t seem to recognize most of the icons. Regardless, each person’s pose and composition lets any viewer know that they are bad-ass. No one dislikes the images, and as they follow their figures down to their feet, that last connection of the spread legs leading to the shoes hits every time.

Finally, a song supporting these ads has been released featuring Santogold, Julian Casablancas, and Pharrell titled “My Drive Thru [Play] [Play].” It’s a nice summer song and perfectly captures what this concept wants to say.

Thus far, here are the artists that have been featured in the many mix-mashed combinations:

  • Santogold
  • Bradford Cox (Deerhunter, Atlas Sound)
  • Common
  • Joan Jett (Joan Jett and the Blackhearts)
  • Billie Joe Armstrong (Green Day)
  • Kid Sister
  • M.I.A.
  • Sid Vicious (the Sex Pistols)
  • Pharrell (N.E.R.D., the Neptunes)
  • Karren O (Yeah Yeah Yeahs)
  • James Dean
  • Hunter S. Thompson
  • Ian Curtis
  • Julian Casablancas (the Strokes)
  • Jona Bechtolt (YACHT)
  • Frank Carter (Gallows)
  • Eleanor Friedberger (Fiery Furnaces)
  • Sophie Kasakove (Care Bears on Fire)
  • Morgan Quaintance (Does It Offend You Yeah)

Update (7/9/08): A video has been released for this song. Sick 2D special effects.

A Night with Kid Sister & A-Trak

A-Trak & Kid SisterEveryone loves tons of taxidermies surrounding them when they go to shows, right? No? Oh well. Last night at the LA County Natural History Museum, Kid Sister & A-Trak put on a great show surrounded by deers, seals, and buffalo.

Because it was one of the museum’s First Fridays events, the night started with a presentation on the topic of elephant communication. Apparently, elephants have huge brains and are considered extremely intelligent mammals. They communicate not only through vocalizations, but also through vibrations transfered from the ground through their feet similar to how some insects do.

It was sometime during this presentation that I realized that this is how the government should fix the declining education levels in the US: have cheap concerts with up-and-coming indie artists at museums, and require kids to come to the museum an hour early to attend a session like this to get tickets. I really think that most people have a genuine interest in learning, but that school is so boring that learning is associated with a unidirectional lecture (and resultant sleep). But back to the music…

A-Trak came out around 8 and spun some hip hop while flaunting his amazing mixing skills here and there. For those who don’t know, A-Trak is Kanye West’s DJ, he won the DMC World DJ Championship in 1997 at the age of 15 (youngest ever & first Canadian), and he owns Fool’s Gold Records. While his first set was great, it was coming out of some crap speakers, which put a damper on things at first. After standing in front of those speakers (in the front row), my ears were kinda shot, so it didn’t really matter.

At around 8:40, Kid Sister came out and put on a great set. She did every song of hers that I know and more. Her songs are so perfect to sing along with because of the simplicity of the hook. After about a half hour set that consisted of Control, Damn Girl, Pro Nail, Beeper, Telephone and others, she finished with Switch Board. It’s neither here nor there, but during Control, she came off the stage, and I happened to hold her hand for a few seconds… That’s how you get fans.

After Kid Sis finished up, A-Trak kept the energy up with some great electro that included stuff by Simian Mobile Disco, The Prodigy, Justice, SebastiAn, Spank Rock, and some of his own remixes of Digitalism and Kanye West. He progressed back down into more hip hop, and ended on a solid note. I think of the DJ sets I’ve been to, I’d most liken A-Trak to Flosstradamous. Both spin electro and hip hop superbly.

It was a great night. While I paid a whopping $6.50 for my tickets, it turned out that USC students get into the museums for free, so a friend here paid nothing (I ordered mine early). It was a bargain either way.