The extent of Diplo‘s production credits will blow your mind. He’s arguably the most diverse, multi-dimensional producers in the world having worked with everyone from Beyoncé to Lil Wayne. And yet, while he could easily craft an entire set out of his own material and puff his chest in front of thousands, in the live arena he wears his DJ hat. Diplo’s Sydney huge Sydney show at the Hordern Pavilion was Diplo as a DJ not a producer and that made all the difference.
I’ve seen Diplo play as himself, Major Lazer and Jack Ü and while he brings totally different aesthetics to each show, he’s got one aim everytime he steps onto the stage – good times. He hit the stage in Sydney ready to party and luckily, he was met by a crowd who had the same vision for the night. In that sense, it’s actually a difficult show to review because it’s not a show that’s there to be pulled apart. His mixing was flawless, the visuals were powerful and the setlist was energetic, if not a little predictable at times, but that review of the show really does not justice.
If I had taken the time to ask everyone on exit whether they had a good time, 99.9 per cent of people would’ve said yes and that means he did his job. The Diplo solo show is about creating a house party vibe no matter what the size of the venue was and he managed to do that, making it feel like a house party with 5,000 of your closest mates.
The vibe was electric from the minute he took to the stage. In an hour and a half he weaved through every genre from trap to dancehall to rap and the crowd followed him, fist-pumping, twerking and grinding, depending on the mood. There was no lull in the set and no second to get bored. This was a DJ set for the A.D.D. generation of electronic music fans (ie. anybody with a streaming account). He hit us with a verse, a hook and a drop taking us through songs at a rapid pace. His 2016 hit Be Right There swooped in early in the set, Jack Ü’s To U was bookended by huge drops and Major Lazer’s Watch Out For This (Bumaye) shook up the mood at the very tail-end of the set. The variation was as random as putting your entire music collection on shuffle but that was one of the greatest things.
What makes Diplo so successful is that he’s a selfless selector. He’s got access to and he embraces some of the weirdest sounds around but while he must get bored of playing Lean On every night, he puts the crowd first and does whatever he has to do to keep the mood as high as possible. That said, each drop was as hyperactive and weird as the next but he’d always bring it back down to earth with a delectable hook. He exited one drop by sliding Where Are Ü Now immediately after sending the crowd into an absolute frenzy. You never had a chance to think about his next move because the whole set was moving at a rapid pace.
While energy levels were high the whole time, it’s hard to beat the Major Lazer portions of the set. Even when he’s kicking back with more low-key jams like Get Free or Run Up there’s an infectious groove that travels through the room and these moments helped add some flavour and melody to the mix. Even without his two Major Lazer sidekicks Jillionaire and Walshy Fire, he stood atop the decks and stirred energy like adding soda to ice cream.
Later in the night he took to Hudson Ballroom, condensing the thousands to just 300. While the vibe was a lot more intimate and the setlist a little weirder and wilder, he maintained the same essence of just being there for a good time. There were fans with their shins up against the stage, metres away from Diplo and he was feeding off their energy, attempting to beat the energy with every single drop.
Diplo, a producer who has been operating for more than a decade, didn’t finish up that night until the early hours of the morning. Not because he had to, but because he feeds off those high energy situations. At a Q&A the next night with Nina Las Vegas he talked about getting bored playing the same songs over and how he missed the house party vibes of his smaller sets but he exclaimed that the two Sydney shows he played the night before were wild. It was genuinely heartening to see Sydney out dancing ’til the early hours of the morning and Diplo had everything to do with pumping that energy back into the city.
Photos by Harry Chalker.