It comes as a surprise to me that Diplo didn’t at least have a cameo in Spring Breakers — the film that takes place in his home state of Florida – considering his penchant for egregious hedonism.
His quest for indulgent nirvana was on full display last Thursday at the Independent, when he and his Major Lazer crew lead a 90-minute uber-bash of trap, electro, dancehall, moombahton, and dubstep.
A Major Lazer concert could arguably be labeled a “glorified DJ set,” due to the lack of a frontperson, the fact that all the instrumentals come from turntables, and because the duo spins other artists’ songs. But despite possessing most of the characteristics of your basic DJ set, Major Lazer’s show had the crowd way more pumped than a standard concert.
The show began with – you guessed it! — two DJ sets from Mad Decent creative director-Diplo’s labelmate Paul Devro and DJ-producer Lunice, who also serves as one half of trap outfit TNGHT, with Hudson Mohawke. Devro and Lunice warmed up the relatively sparse crowd (a good portion of the audience arrived in between Lunice and Major Lazer) with a solid sampling of tracks typically featured on most up-to-date DJ mixes. Major Lazer fans, get your shit together, showing up fashionably late is so passe, just pre-game an hour earlier if you have to. You missed quality openers.
Major Lazer was up next. At Diplo’s side were producers-DJs Jillionaire and Walshy Fire of Black Chiney fame (Major Lazer started as a collaboration between Diplo and Switch, but Switch split in 2011). And this should come as no surprise to those familiar with Diplo, there also was a lone dancer on stage, getting her express yourself on the whole time.
Express yourself isn’t just a music video but also a meme where young women tweet pictures of themselves doing handstands against a wall to Diplo’s music. Even though its novelty wore off within a month, that hasn’t stopped Diplo from cluttering his followers’ Twitter feeds with constant retweets of young, barely-clothed upside down women. (He’ll throw in a guy or two once every thousand retweets.)
From the opening horn sounds to the closing hoots, Major Lazer effortlessly orchestrated a wildly raucous party. Before Diplo even yelled out the requisite “whassup San Francisco” shout-out, the DJ-superproducer-rapscallion, clad in a suit straight from GQ, was standing on top of the elaborate sound system, towering over his bass-hungry subjects.
And after hopping down from his perch, he proceeded to shower the crowd in bills, though your concert reviewer was unfortunately unable to verify the denominations of said bills. But then came the showering of the vuvuzelas! Pretty much anyone who wanted one, got one. And right after that, Diplo got into an eight-foot diameter air bubble and rolled on top of the audience, a move that surely stopped the hearts of the Independent’s management.
But the music was beckoning, and Diplo and crew got to work thrusting the throbbing bass and eclectic grooves of hits such as “Original Don” (Flosstradamus remix), “Listen to your Heart” by Hot Chip (Major Lazer remix), and Major Lazer’s latest single “Get Free” amid a blitzkrieg of neon lights.
After a while, Diplo was back to his old antics. He invited a lucky bro up on stage to have him document a live-action Harlem Shake video (I told you Diplo indulges in dead memes). But the crowd didn’t mind and gleefully engaged in one last Harlem Shake. (Hopefully.)
The biggest non-surprise of them all came when Diplo hand-picked five lucky ladies to come on stage to express the hell out of themselves. He later invited another female audience member up because, why the eff not? This gimmick went on for at least five minutes too long, especially when two of the women looked cravenly exhausted from doing this drunken dancing handstand.
All night long Diplo was unabashedly bathing in the unfettered hedonism of sweat, drink, and bass, and when the set was over, he immediately jet-setted two miles east to the Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, where another throng of beat-thirsty youth was waiting for him.