He’s always going to throw a goddamn dance party. I hear a lot of critiques, but – save for the 45-minute Major (Disappointment) Lazer show at Sound Academy two years ago when the MCs obliterated any chances of hearing music – I’ve never left a show disappointed. And I know from disappointment (e.g. Nicolas Jaar’s largely anticipated but brutally short 43 minute set earlier this year.) The two aren’t even comparable. Jaar is the jam, and moves me like Diplo’s Florida once did, but sometimes you just want to dance. And the answer is always Diplo.
The trap was in place as he took over just after midnight and we were immediately snared up in a dirty, messy set the direction of which changed so frequently even the shortest attention span was held firmly in place. At times the brief hints of favoured tracks became frustrating, but I know it’s to keep the energy up and everyone wanting more. The benefit of this hyper-active format is we didn’t have to wait to0 long for the nods to jungle and dubstep to pass so we could get back to the Baile Funk, Baltimore Club, Trap, Bounce, Hip Hop, Dub and Dancehall. He even unapologetically threw some Bhangra in there like it was 2008 again, which was a very good thing. People love that ‘ish and it sounds celebratory. It suited the crowd to tone down the really hard stuff and the number one observation, music aside, was what a great crowd the night attracted.
About half way through he dropped Bauer’s “Harlem Shake” – I don’t think I fully appreciated the heaviness of that track until then. It unified the crowd from a spastic collection of vacant-eyed kickers and thrusters to an entire club dropping low. Everyone suddenly looked hotter and surer of themselves. Predictably he worked in Blur’s“Song 2” – the multigenerational anthem of club-goers and bud-drinkers alike – because he knows all we have to do to feel like a part of something is shout “woo hoo” at the right time. Participation was large, with call and response, dead air filled by the crowd shouting familiar lyrics, Diplo’s swan dive crowd surf, and an on-stage twerkin’ contest over which he presided. He’s been quoted for saying he just wants to throw fun parties, and that’s just it – he doesn’t merely play music for us, he engages his guests and pushes the mayhem.
The night reminded us that Florida, one of the most defining albums of my life, and hopefully yours, is buried deep in the past (save for the mainstay husky voiced “Diplo” sample) and I get it: not a dance album. Old school Diplo did make an appearance towards the middle end and my enthusiasm was palpable (yeah, I was that one chick screaming and dancing on the stairs blocking your way – but honestly I did you a favour, no bathroom runs during these tracks: turn around and get down.) He dropped Busta Rhymes “Touch It”, his Tonite Remix of Spank Rock’s “Put That Pussy on Me”, and his iconic dance hit “Bucky Wut.” It felt like a gift. I was 22 again.
The night ended just after 3am and the sweat-slicked crowd filed out with mostly positive reviews shared with me between urgent drags from their cigarettes. Despite the overcrowding and pushing (biggest con), people were happy – they just saw Diplo and it wasn’t at a super club or a music festival. The night had a rare intimacy.