The project of American producer Diplo, Major Lazer’s most recent album was an enjoyable lucky bag of collaborations and guest artists; a dip could draw out anyone from Vampire Weekend’s Ezra Koenig to Shaggy, Dirty Projector’s Amber Coffman to Peaches. It was equally scattergun in genre, mashing together dancehall and reggae, dubstep and drum’n’bass, electro-pop and indie vocals.
Live, Major Lazer are even more skittish – tracks rarely last more than a minute or two, constantly chopping and changing. It’s dance music for the short attention span generation; DJing with ADHD. It’s also pretty annoying: we’re there to move, but they rarely let you get into a groove before whisking off in another direction. As well as their own tracks, there are brief snippets of everything from The Prodigy to House of Pain to Snoop Dogg, making the evening somewhat resemble a big-budget student disco. Diplo is flanked by fellow Lazers, Walshy Fire and Jillionaire, but the only live guest is Coffman; “Get Free”, the track she sings on, is allowed breathing space and unsurprisingly becomes a highlight.
Not to say a Major Lazer show isn’t a lot of fun: these boys know how to party. They fire smoke canons and streamers, wave giant flags, go zorbing over the crowd. And the crowd are very up for it, throwing their hands – and their shirts - in the air at Diplo’s request; there’s a bro-step, frat party vibe here that feels extremely American. Their show is weirdly short on actual lasers, but there are epilepsy-inducing flashing lights and projections of the sort of unsubtle bright green giant cannabis leaves that more usually grace teenage boy’s walls.
Their dancers also seem to be straight out of a teenage fantasy; anyone who found Miley’s twerking too raunchy would likely faint right away on seeing the things these two hair-flicking, hot-pant-wearing women can do with their pelvises. It obviously goes with the dancehall stylings, but there’s a somewhat creepy power imbalance between three men in suits holding microphones, and two barely-dressed, silent women gyrating furiously. This is only exacerbated when a selection of young audience members – all women, naturally – “with big bootys” are pulled up on stage to wind away to “Bubble Butt”, a track celebrating/objectifying female bottoms. No doubt, I’d be accused of taking it all too seriously: it’s just a party, bro.