We’re a bit cynical when it comes to performing DJs. We tend to think that there’s not much to actually “performing,” since the DJ could conceivably just make a long file and then pretend to be mixing and switching as gestures to the audience. Major Lazer, the collective dance music project headed by internationally famous producer Diplo, doesn’t bother with the conceit when they play live. Though there is a guy behind the boards (Diplo? Not really clear), the music is accompanied by all sorts of performative nonsense — streamers, giant plastic globes, pyrotechnics, dancing girls — that pretty much set the stage for what their concerts are: Just a huge party. And the audience was only too willing to participate.
And it was a kind of crude, regressive party, which may be the best kind and copacetic to the hip-hop value set. The dancing girls, for instance, were obviously at the beck and call of the male hosts, who made no bones (no pun intended) about using them for their own pleasure. At one point, they called on everyone to take off their shirts, and when very few people obliged they had to moderate the request by asking people to just grab something to throw in the air. As parties go, it was a makeshift affair.
But an effective one. When they said “jump,” everybody jumped. When they said “crouch down on the ground,” everybody crouched. It was nasty in the best sense, and once Bjork’s show was over, that party joined this one. People are very adjustable.