I had no idea what to expect going into the Major Lazer show, partly because watching DJs spin can be a bit of a bore (especially if you are not going to dance, but to report). But I was more concerned with the fact that Major Lazer is a fictional animated character, depicted as a Jamaican commando who lost his arm in a zombie war.
DJ Diplo and producer Switch, the men behind the cartoon band, have worked with artists including M.I.A., Amanda Blank, Santigold, Basement Jaxx, and Lily Allen, among others. The “Lazers Never Die” tour stop in Minneapolis was Sunday, April 11 at First Avenue, which is typically a difficult night in the week to draw a decent crowd to the club. But the club was was packed well within the first hour, and was a madhouse by the time Major Lazer hit the stage.
Opening the event was Bosco Delrey, an unusual setup consisting of a rockabilly vocalist/guitarist with a keyboardist/noise maker and DJ. It’s rare to see something completely new, but watching this band was one of those moments. The combination of rockabilly and noise rock or dance music was infectious. Yet the crowd didn’t move, with the exception of a couple dancers in the front going insane—which probably wasn’t a result of either the music or the alcohol, as the crowd was full of ravers.
DJ Rusko came up next, and was probably the perfect choice to warm up the crowd. The London dubstep DJ set the entire room in motion, thrashing his arms up and down while spinning tracks that were more noise- than song-based. Rusko incorporated a few popular tracks, like Kid Cudi’s club anthem “Day N Nite” and “Pro Nails” by Kid Sister—a track the DJ remixed himself. The greatest moment in the set happened during a sampling of the classic guitar riff from Dire Straits’ “Money For Nothing,” when the accompanying smoke and lights surrounding the DJ came together with the music, to recall an 80s music video.
Barely any time passed before Major Lazer’s set began, bringing to the stage Diplo and two hype people: a man looking like the real-life version of Major Lazer, with his yellow Mohawk and army gear, and a woman wearing high boots and a bodysuit. A protective shell of lasers surrounded Diplo’s DJ tables, and other motion lasers pulsated across the stage. The set was mostly Major Lazer tracks, while throwing in an occasional crowd pleaser like Ini Kamoze’s “World a Reggae.” The hype people tossed out t-shirts and foam green lasers to the crowd, before getting into a series of stunts onstage that kept the crowd’s interest. The female hype person did a headstand high on top of a speaker, then jumped into the arms of the male, and the two “daggered,” as I read it being called on Twitter; apparently, that’s a friendly way of saying “dry humping.”
Then Diplo played Ace of Base’s “All That She Wants” and everyone in the crowd sang along. The pair of “soldiers” took turns jumping off of a ladder onto each other, which barely looked safe. Security at the club looked frightened, and being a former employee, I empathized with First Avenue’s staff a bit during all of this. In terms of what patrons shouldn’t do, the Major Lazer show had it all. People were dancing on top of the ledges surrounding the dance floor. Kids were high off their own supply, and were coming down on the club’s sidewalk. In other words, it was a typical crazy fun night at First Avenue.