If Karl Lagerfeld’s words are correct, then the air above London’s Brixton Academy must have been ablaze with the red, yellow and green of the Jamaican influenced dancehall project, Major Lazer, on Saturday night.
Known for their explosive performances and with fans across the world, the electronic DJ team created by Diplo has been on my must-see list for some time now. I love their eclectic and unique mix of dancehall, reggae, ska and heavy bass influences which were my favourite combination of sounds throughout the summer, epitomising my experiences of the music at Boomtown Fair in August. Their love of experimentation with sound is something that stands out to me against the blurred and quite frankly, now boring, background of pop music where the likes of Little Mix and Miley Cyrus either churn out the same rubbish or try to shock audiences with nudity or lewdness.
Major Lazer treat music as a growing and fluctuating thing, their performance clearly showed them working with the crowd and reacting to them – you could tell the show was completely unique and that every member of the crew was loving every second.
It was my first time at the venue and although I had been told only a couple of weeks before at a Sub Focus gig that it wasn’t a very good venue, I was more than impressed. The auditorium was huge and domed, which perfectly reverberated the sound of a fantastic bass system – I was impressed because so often the sound is not completely right at gigs and the bass is slightly too heavy and ruins the tone of the music. The roof of the building was incredible, the dome and the darkness of the ceiling made it looks as though you were in an open-air venue, but thankfully not because it was rather wet outside.
The show started with a warm-up by Martello and then Redlight, Sadly we missed the first act because of a mix-up with the tickets, but we made it just in time to watch the whole of Redlight’s set – I have now seen him DJ three times this summer. This was significantly softer than his usual sets, but we figured this was because the crowd was a more laid back one of some younger teens as well as the heavy bass nuts so he may have been keeping it slightly lighter. Not as good as his set at Boomtown Fair, but still a great set and certainly got the crowd up and dancing as they waited for Major Lazer.
The gig went pretty much to time and I was pleased because I was dying to see Major Lazer hit the stage, and hit the stage they did. It was like an explosion of pure reggae, bass, colour and personality had taken place right in front of our eyes with streamers, lights and boundless energy. I was instantly swept up in the crowd as they bounced to each drop of the bass and swayed to the reggae sections.
It was an incredible set, with plenty of the older songs from the group’s first album, Guns Don’t Kill People… Lazers Do, that had the crowd singing along and dancing like crazy. But it was the songs from the newer album, Free The Universe, that really brought the audience to fever pitch. You’re No Good, Jah No Partial and Bumaye really had the crowd dancing, especially the latter during which Jillionaire got the audience to hit the floor and jump up when the bass dropped before running to the right and the left. It was such an active performance, not just for Major Lazer, but for the audience, which was great. It was incredible to feel like a part of the performance.
Not long into the show, the group even launched a guy in a giant inflatable hamster ball out onto the audience and with crowd surfers heading all over the place, it was fantastic. Of course, they dropped the legend that is Snoop Dogg’s Drop It Like It’s Hot to a rapturous response – I would have died if he had actually walked onstage and I had seen him for the second time! Later on, the group asked a bunch of girls to head on stage to shake it for Bubblebutt (I was told by people around me that I should have joined them but I was just having too much fun where I was!).
My favourite part of the gig had to be when they played my favourite song – Get Free – not just once, but three times and they even played two different versions! I absolutely love this song, I have so many incredible memories of hearing it on nights out and at festivals, and I think the reason I love it so much (like Tidalwave by Sub Focus) is that it features an incredibly powerful vocal followed by some strong bass. This seems to be the perfect combination for the perfect song. I loved that the group played not only the original, but teased us with it throughout the performance, then finished with the Andy C remix which is actually my preferred version with more bass.
The gig was just incredible and I have to say it was the best I have ever been to. I have never been to a gig where there was literally no trouble at all, and where people were all so friendly. In a packed venue, there was barely any pushing or rudeness, people queued for the bar and toilets patiently and didn’t go crazy if you accidentally stood on their toe. I was even more impressed to notice that the majority of the crowd seemed relatively sober, apart from the odd person who had wide eyes or had hit the booze a little too hard, but even they failed to cause any trouble. I did see a few people blazing up during the performance but fair play, it was a Major Lazer gig after all!
To any reggae, ska, dancehall or bass lovers out there, or to anyone who is looking for music that is a little bit different and haven’t heard of Major Lazer before – I would highly recommend checking out their music. Trust me, no matter how good it sounds on your iPod, it sounds a million times better live. If you ever get the chance, don’t miss out on seeing these guys. I can’t wait to see what they do next!