Major Lazer at the Roundhouse
Major Lazer, the brainchild of DJs Diplo and Switch, is on a ruthless and fantastical tour for their latest album Free The Universe. For those unfamiliar with the concept, in cartoon form Major Lazer is a Jamaican ex-commando with a laser instead of a right arm who not only owns a club and creates his own beats, but also battles forces of evil – a most bizarre and imaginative exploration into Jamaican music and culture.
Exploding onto the Roundhouse stage in a commotion of branded flags and scarves, it was immediately evident that the show was going to be no more and no less than a riotous party. Ninety minutes of body-blasting energy was administered through rigid synchronisation that pushed the audience up and up and up. In one sense the concert format was restrictive to their artistic capacity but also allowed for a strategic, theatrical performance and shameless promotion of the Major Lazer brand.
The set itself was an unmercifully relentless mix of current material and past gems. Tracks with vocal emphasis like Get Free soared above a pulse of stomach-rattling bass while infusions of Eurythmics, Snoop Dogg, House of Pain and Nirvana entertained in the penultimate moments. However, it didn’t feel like the show had further heights to reach; there was little suspense throughout, only a wild and unyielding plateau of sound punctuated in the brisk transition from one song to the next.
Poignant to the performance was the immense crowd control achieved by their incessant demand for audience participation and an enthusiasm that was successfully aroused. All the gimmicks were used. “Let me see you put your hands in the air! Now jump!” was the repeated order and the mass followed without hesitation. Audience members invited on stage danced upon instruction with vigour and profound conviction. The utter adoration and unquestioning obedience had fans melting like butter on Major Lazer’s tongue.
As an introduction to Free The Universe, the show was fierce and the delivery both shocking and intriguing. It felt raw and “old-skool”, but this represented its intended, brutal honesty. The genre fusions Diplo and Switch have explored are as impressive as ever; delivering dub, dancehall, reggae and house with eye-popping vivacity, fury and sexiness. Whatever angle you come at Major Lazer, your arms will be forced up in the air and you will, indeed be jumping.
Photos: Sarah Tsang
For further information and future events visit Major Lazer’s website here.
Watch the video for Get Free featuring Amber of Dirty Projectors here: