Saturday, June 13
At 2AM, as you wait, making listless small talk, for the belated arrival of a band that may or may not even really exist, it suddenly becomes very easy to believe that someone is fucking with you–cosmically, or maybe even out-and-out personally. Major Lazer, the ontologically vague dancehall pastiche project by–depending on who you believe–a one-armed Jamaican commando zombie or the human DJ duo of Diplo and Switch, is taking a long time to manifest itself, whatever it is. We are long past a scheduled 1AM start time and, short of a brief and confused bout of emo shouting by Brooklyn’s lil’est toaster, Ricky Blaze, the stage is graced only by a floor-to-ceiling video of an unspecified country’s Carnaval, year and date unknown.
Right, and now here they are, Diplo and Switch, in matching three-piece suits and smirks, as a barrage of noise–air-horns, laser sound-effects, trebly, wobbly Soca, and a computerized voice saying the words “Major” and “Lazer” over and over again–drifts out into a crowd that–though they’re pointing their toy laser guns up–seems genuinely confused, torn between dancing and asking a friend what exactly is the part of the gratingly tinny swarm of noise they’re supposed to be dancing to. There is a guy in a hood and sunglasses playing inaudible bongos, stage left, and now to the right the duo’s hypeman, 77Klash, emerges, followed by two dancers in masks and minimal shorts/shirts. But for the absence of a beat, we could now be in a strip club.
Commence the next hour and a half of your life. Diplo and Switch pass headphones back and forth, taking turns standing awkwardly by the turntables in the back as a succession of random guests (Nina Sky! Jah Dan!) and sound-effects (lasers, autotuned babies, Klash asking, “Yo, whose baby is that?”) alternate with sped-up, chopped-down versions of “A Milli” and “All That She Wants” and unrecognizable amalgamations of all three, various people screaming “New York! New York!” into various microphones even as New York looks on, uncharacteristically phased. Around 3:30, the crowd storm the stage, the two Major Lazers disappearing behind a swarm of people who, zombies or no zombies, have decided to take matters into their own hands, literally, maybe, clapping the two dancehall Tinkerbells into belated existence as Major Lazer become, finally, the thing it probably always was: thirty five or forty people dancing erratically to “Bucky Done Gun,” all vaguely relieved that the evening’s Jamaican detour is over and done with.