Major Lazer’s Wednesday night show at First Avenue sold out just a few minutes before the band - the posse? - took the stage, and a friend I ran into couldn’t understand why it had taken that long. “People don’t understand,” he said, “that they can absolutely lose their mind for $20.”
It was indeed a mind-losing show, which is not necessarily what one expects from an act that collaborates with a member of the Dirty Projectors, even if it’s an act that’s represented as a cartoon commando. Major Lazer is the kind of act that’s called a “project,” in this case a project of the busy producer Diplo. The first Major Lazer album "Guns Don’t Kill People…Lazers Do" (2009) was largely a collaboration between Diplo and the DJ Switch, who later left over “creative differences.” A new Major Lazer LP is imminent, but has not yet been released, which put Diplo in the potentially awkward position of presenting unreleased material in the company of new collaborators.
In reality, no one gave a damn as the Mainroom screen rolled up shortly after 11 p.m. to reveal Diplo and his touring contingent perched atop a giant bank of speakers, casually tossing vuvuzelas to the crowd and cranking a mix that didn’t stop until well after midnight. There wasn’t much by way of rapping or singing; it was essentially a Major Lazer DJ show, with other artists’ dance hits (“Harlem Shake,” check) interspersed with Major Lazer material new and old while two hype men (three, if you count the antic Diplo) and a hype b-girl kept the crowd well-roused.
Diplo’s a quick hand at the MacBook, and the energy remained incredibly high for the duration of the set. He’s also not above spring-break-style shenanigans that, on Wednesday night, involved a human hamster ball for himself, a booty-shaking contest for several women brought onstage from the crowd (after an imprecation for everyone to remove their shirts, with special encouragement given to the ladies in the house), and a prone pantsing of a male audience member.
Major Lazer “himself,” in the form of a guy in costume, took the stage for a couple of numbers toward the end, but the puppet-headed actor didn’t seem to present much danger of taking military action or, really, any action at all beyond wobbling back and forth across the stage. Mission: accomplished.