Major Lazer – an act totally misunderstood


Confused is how I felt after the Major Lazer‘s performance at the roundhouse in Camden last Saturday night. Read on to find out why…..

First off I need to make it clear that I’ve been a fan of Diplo’s Major Lazer since the album ‘Guns dont kill people … Lazers do’ came out in June 2009.  The Jamaican Dancehall artists mixed over some dirty beats was a genius combination.

In fact their first album ‘Guns dont kill people … Lazers do’ was so authentic that I was seriously shocked when I found out the mastermind behind the project was a white ex school teacher from Florida called Thomas Wesley Pentz aka DIPLO .

The long-awaited 2nd album from Major Lazer came out this year on 16th April 2013.  Downloaded straight away I was stuck into those dancehall vibes and loved it as much as the 1st album.  The new album ‘Free the Universe’ definitely has a slightly more electronic dance feeling to it but the same jamaican vocals influence is still strong.  Indeed their soundcloud account sites them as being from Kingston, Jamaica.

So … Saturday night … what the hell happened guys?

I’ll give credit where credit is due – they gave one hell of a performance.  The light show was jammin, the dancers on stage were sic and the venue (Roundhouse) as always had a great atmosphere.  But I came to hear and get down low to Major Lazer – and I couldnt do that.

So why were my expectations so wrong?  I dont know … probably because I had the 2 albums to base them on.  Most of the night was spent playing Baauer ‘s Harlem Shake (which I guess is no big surprise as record label Mad Decent is Diplo’s) mixed in with literally 10 second snippets of a couple of dancehall tracks and randoms like House of Pain Jump Around.  The very few Major Lazer tunes they played were short-lived or transformed into new electronic trance versions that barely resembled the originals.

Not only did the music misrepresent what the 2 albums stand for, but I honestly felt at times that I was at a child’s birthday party with DIPLO and friends as the entertainment.  After we moved on from the Harlem shake (granted that was fun … but I didn’t go there to see that) we were asked to remove an item of clothing each, which basically meant that DIPLO was able to strip down and prance around like a pretty boy on stage.  I used to think the guy was a musical genius (which based on the albums – he is) and so modest to hide behind the ‘Major Lazer’ facade and Jamaican acts … but oh no …. think spring break shameless egotistic posing and thrusting.  In fact he gave the dream boys a run for their money.  Seriously … again … as sexy as the guy is … I didn’t come here for this.

What confused me even more was the crowd – not your average dancehall crew f’shaw.  Have they even seen the Pon de Floor video? No daggering in site …  Infact they looked better suited for a DJ Tiësto night, I’m talking neon glo flowers painted on faces and gap yar attire.  When I think about it – Diplo even catered to this by completing transforming the act that night for the young white crowd.  Only now after the gig have I looked at other performances and I can see they followed a set formula – a carefully structured ‘show’, rather than a musical performance.


Was it only me who left so dissapointed?  Leaving the venue & talking to other people from the crowd – they all LOVED it?!! How were my expectations so wrong?  Ultimately I can say the albums represent amazing music with an authentic Jamaican vibe and likewise the show seemed to entertain the masses through the acts crazy energy – but where to 2 meet still confuses me.  Answers on a postcard please…..

Major Lazer “Pon De Floor” from Eric Wareheim on Vimeo.