Glitter cannons and human-sized hamster balls spilled out over the audience at the House of Blues during Friday evening’s Major Lazer concert, a high energy event that demanded full participation for a whirlwind two hours of dancing, rapping, and earth-rattling jumping.
For the uninitiated, Major Lazer consists of DJ and producer Diplo, along with a rotating band of cohorts that includes a hype man, two dancers, and someone to man the decks while Diplo entertains the crowd. The group’s style of music can be pigeonholed into a murky EDM meets meets reggae blend that often includes classic rock, hip-hop, and even multilingual moombahton. Known for its exhausting but euphoric events-in which whatever setting the band plays in transforms into an underground club like something out of a cheesy ’90s movie but better-Major Lazer has been thoroughly and extensively making its way around the world since the release of its debut album, Guns Don’t Kill People…Lazers Do.
Major Lazer’s tour touched down at the House of Blues last week ostensibly in support of its upcoming album, but the group readily incorporated old hits with its newer material. As two scantily clad women jumped from the rafters to the floor in full splits, defying any logic about bodily contortion previously known to mankind, Diplo stepped up to his DJ equipment and boldly began the evening with an overpowering dub-step track that set the tone for the night.
One of Diplo’s greatest strengths is his encyclopedic knowledge of music and its history, and his savant-like ability to seamlessly mash tracks together in a way that both honors the originals while also creating something entirely new and original. Hits of his like “Barely Standing” and “Pon De Floor” became background melodies that supported rap songs, classic rock anthems (Nirvana did make an appearance, much to the audience’s head-thrashing delight), and old school slow jams. A quick three-song medley blended together current rap radio staples like French Montana’s “Pop That” and 2 Chainz’s “Birthday Song,” although the audience seemed less than receptive to the tunes.
“This is a new joint right here,” Diplo bellowed as he clambered on top of his musical infrastructure and commanded the crowd to take their shirts off in unison. People waved their tops around in the air at “Jah No Partial,” Major Lazer’s just released single with popular UK act Flux Pavillion. Champagne bottles exploded over the audience, streamers burst from the ceiling, and the entire audience jumped in unison, a giant crowd of sweat and tears.
One of the concert’s crowning moments arrived when Diplo and his emcee invited a parade of women to the stage to show off their dance skills. Having seen a Major Lazer concert before, it was easy and elating to know exactly what was coming next: within seconds, the throbbing swell of the energetic “Express Yourself” began to echo through the hall. It’s safe to say that Boston hasn’t seen that many rear ends up in the air waving in unison in quite some time. The moment seemed to loosen up everyone in attendance, with the previously tentative crowd now bonding over the beats.
That’s the point of a Major Lazer concert: a large group of people willing and ready to dance join forces under one roof for a night of reckless debauchery. It’s a cleansing experience that allows people to dance away their cares in a celebratory whirlwind of life. Without getting too philosophical and fancy, it’s easy to see why house fans traverse the world in search of their next fix. Devotees of festivals like Sensation-which just touched down in New York City for its first ever stateside incarnation-flock from country to country, paying for flights, hotels, and tickets to these events in the hopes that, for several hours anyway, nothing else matters except the beat.
At a Major Lazer concert, one can expect to hear hits like “Get Free,” “Pon De Floor,” and “Hold the Line”-but more importantly, one can escape from reality for several hours of unadulterated bliss. At the House of Blues, Major Lazer touched down for two hours of frenzied perfection. As Mary Poppins so famously told her wards at the end of her stay: “until we meet again.”