This weekend ushered in both spring and the return of NY-via-L.A. super-party Hardfest, holding a packed, sweaty fete Saturday night at Terminal 5, one part enormous dance-music showcase (featuring Boys Noize, Major Lazer, and Buraka Som Sistema this round) and one part general mayhem. T5 held an incredible (and incredibly overwhelming) number of teenagers with Mom and Dad in tow, along with colorfully beaded and spaced-out rave fiends, several people who’d forgotten or lost their clothes, and graying men hellbent on pushing their way to the edge of the stage rather than hanging back by the bar. It’s time to get weird.
Buraka Som Sistema were finishing up as we dove into the audience. Scantily clad dancers wobbling on pleather silver platforms shimmied across the stage in feathered headdresses as we tried to figure out what exactly was going on. Though the group’s MC Kalaf and Conductor were certainly onstage somewhere, we could barely hear them over the remixes of their own tunes that blared above. It didn’t matter, though. After a few minutes, the three-tiered venue went dark as an LCD-screened DJ booth and a familiar chorus of airhorns announced the arrival of Major Lazer.
A now-frenzied crowd chanted the Diplo/Switch dancehall duo’s name as Skerrit Bwoy jumped onstage, followed by a Chinese dragon and a collective shriek from 3,000 or so onlookers. Anyone trying to walk through the mosh pit was denied (standing was a feat in itself), though watching the mob of tweens clutch the person next to them, shake the sweat off their shags, and stare wild-eyed at the stage in anticipation was good enough for those of us content to observe from the sidelines.
The antics began. Three dancing dragons disassembled into furry-legged ninjas who battled as Skerrit led a chant of, “The roof/The roof/The roof is on fire.” Bikini-clad dancers in camouflage booty-shorts threw foam fingers into the crowd. Skerrit’s Kill Bill-styled jumpsuit had been peeled off over the course of a particularly enthusiastic dance routine; an MC climbed onto the DJ platform, dangerously close to the turntables, as Diplo himself remained eerily but perfectly serene throughout. The Diplo/Afrojack track “Pon De Street/Drive By” was the obvious highlight, delivering just the sort of spectacle we’ve come to expect from Major Lazer, though in the midst of it all we were searching for Switch, mysteriously absent from the night’s festivities.
By the time German producer Boys Noize took the stage, the audience had doubled in on itself, no thanks to the screens flashing “Come With Me” as the DJ opened his set with his own “Kontact Me.” The blinding screens flashed in time as a sea of fists pumped along, a scene that seemed close to a brainwashing experiment from Lost. We were pleasantly surprised by a brief Michael Jackson tribute thrown into the mix, complete with a moonwalking and pelvic-thrusting dancer. But when that ended, so did our night.