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Show Review: Major Lazer and Dragonette at Royal Oak Music Theatre 3/1/13

Diplo and the rest of Major Lazer returned to metro Detroit this past Friday night with one of the most energetic and visually stimulating live EDM shows in existance. The sold out Royal Oak stop was the first US date of Major Lazer’s new “Free The Universe” tour, a prelude to their album, Free The Universe, due out on April 15, 2013. Major Lazer were last in the Detroit market while playing last years Movement Electronic Music Festival. Major Lazer delivered much more than the traditional DJ at a laptop set, instead they provide 2 choreographed “booty” dancers, MC/hype man Walshy Fire, Dj’s Diplo and DJ Jillionaire, vuvuzelas, and all kinds of madness and insanity. Major Lazer brought a multi-genre assault of music in their set including their signature reggae-influenced moombahton music interspersed with hip hop, rock, edm, dubstep, and trap music. The show was similar to an edm show meets a cruise ship party with guided fun from the mc and dancers. They even guided the audience in dances to Caribbean rhythms like “Suavemente”, though it was not cheesy like it sounds.

At one point during the evening’s performance, the group played Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and utilized the music videos signature gold lighting that Kurt Cobain and company were famously illuminated in. Diplo briefly made his way through the audience using the same inflatable zorb spheres made famous by The Flaming Lips during their live show, rolling over the audience, while unable to maintain his balance enough to stand up in it. The staging was a mock set up of a plethora of speakers, lasers, and other lighting. The entire show was completely different than any other big budget edm performance that I’ve seen as of late, instead of most of the attention being paid to a dj at a laptop or trippy graphics, the true visual element was everything else happening on the stage.

One of the highlights of the show was the performance of Diplo’s “Express Yourself”, in which they pulled a few attractive females from the audience to dance upside down in headstand mode (check out Diplo’s twitter for a better description with pictures). They made their way through the night with Major Lazer songs “Bubble Butts”, “Jah No Partial” and “Pon De Floor”, which Beyonce famously sampled in her 2011 hit “Run The World (Girls)”. The concert was one huge animated performance after another huge animated performance, there was no lack of energy, crowd hyping, flags, or confetti throughout the performance. If you’re looking for one of the best times you’ll ever have make sure that you see Major Lazer next time they come around. 

Opening the show was the Detroit debut of Canadian electropop band Dragonette. They powered through their hits “Pick Up the Phone”, “Let It Go”, and “Take It Like A Man”. The band seemed to get the biggest reaction though when playing hits on which lead singer Martina Sorbara lent her vocals to including Kaskade’s “Fire In Your New Shoes” and the inescapable “Hello” by Martin Solveig. Dragonette made the best of the evening’s performance as it was plagued by multiple sound problems. The Major Lazer audience seemed to enjoy Dragonette’s set regardless of the sound issues and it seamlessly set the tone for what was yet to come.