Concert Review: Major Lazer at Grand Central, May 15

Photo by Ian Witlen
Skerrit Bwoy and Mimi taking the lead for Major Lazer.
Click here to view all the photos from this event.

Major Lazer
Grand Central, Miami
Saturday, May 15, 2010

Better than: Dealing with TSA at Miami International Airport in order to actually catch a flight to Jamaica.

It was almost two months ago that the Switch and Diplo side project Major Lazer made its Miami debut at Ultra Music Festival. I actually reviewed the show back then, and for the most part it was exactly the same except for a few things:
  • Switch didn't make it to the show -- conflicting accounts were that he missed the flight; or that Diplo and Switch had to work in the studio, so Switch stayed behind.
  • This show would ultimately test Grand Central's live show chops.
  • Major Lazer's popularity has reached a fever pitch.

The show served as Poplife's debut at Grand Central -- which, I've been told that Saturday's party at the venue isn't "technically" called Poplife, but I'm not one for technicalities. If you had walked into the downtown club you would have never known it was a Poplife event. Much to the horror of the city's hipsteratti, candy ravers and your typical Miami bros had sort of taken over the night. It's probably because for the first time in a long time Poplife is now 18 and over, instead of the 21+ that was enforced at venues like Electric Pickle and White Room.

So how did the venue fare during its first major show? Things were a little spotty. Sound quality was great -- damn right impressive considering it's a warehouse space -- but there were serious issues with crowd control. I was told the act was offered barriers to put in front of the stage, but said they it wouldn't be necessary. Wrong choice; they would have vastly improved the organization. I felt bad for Grand Central's security who spent the first 20 minutes trying to get the crowd off the stage safely without causing a mass riot. I'm a true believer in crowd safety and ultimately it falls on the artist and venue to make sure people who paid good money leave a show with their lives intact. It seemed like between the floor and the stage there was a platform for the sub-woofers and the crowd decided to cram themselves in this area. Security tried to get people off of it but ultimate knew it was best to just leave them there and just try to clear the actual stage area. Kudos to the staff for being put in a pretty bad situation but handling it pretty damn well.

Grouchy old-man complaint aside, Skerrit Bwoy and his pose of dancers put on just as an energetic of a show as they did at Ultra. The absence of Switch wasn't really felt (is that a bad thing for Switch?), perhaps because ultimately the show is really all about Skerrit Bwoy. He daggered every female in sight, while Mimi (the lone female dancer) serves as his perfect counterpart thanks to dance moves that, well, are hard to describe and seem to defy all laws of physics.

The set felt longer that the one back in March and actually featured an encore thanks to a crowd who never wanted it to end. If you must know how crazy it got, both Skerrit Bwoy and Mimi managed to shimmy up the rafters and do some rather dangerous dance moves that had me thinking I hope they get paid well to do what they do.

Critic's Notebook

Personal Bias: I've been accused of dismissing South Beach and favoring downtown's nightlife scene. So fucking what? Downtown is light years ahead of anything on the beach. Sorry, D-list celebs and fancy sound and lighting systems do not necessarily make a good nightclub.

By the Way: Major Lazer is releasing a new EP, Lazers Never Die, in July.

Random Detail: We've been told of a few other upcoming bookings at Grand Central that might make you say, Major Lazer who? Though we can't tell you who yet.

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