We just caught the very tail end of opening DJs Gent & Jawns, who worked “Gangnam Style” into the end of their set, which we realized did not exist last summer. Dragonette provided surprisingly good, upbeat electro-pop, including a cover of “Time After Time.” Then they performed “Hello,” and we realized we’d heard that song before. Not Lionel Richie's "Hello," but the one by French DJ Martin Solveig with Dragonette's Martina Sorbara on vocals? You know it, through commercial osmosis — it’s the one that goes “Hel-lo, oh-oh-oh.” Fun!
The people most stoked for the headliner were likely the people in costumes. There was a penguin. There was a football helmet (good for dancing?). There was a guy with what appeared to be those air-traffic-controller orange flags that wave airplanes into the gate. Major Lazer’s DJ setup was a series of giant speakers, which appeared fake but frightened our eardrums nonetheless. Once started, Diplo & Co. almost immediately stage-dived.
Thus kicked off approximately two hours of dancehall and pop hits, which included “Pony,” “Drop It Like It’s Hot,” fucking “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” “Pop That,” Major Lazer’s own “Pon de Floor” (in the set and in the encore, we think it was the same way at Bonnaroo), orders to do the frickin’ Harlem Shake (it’s harder than you think trying to get a keyed-up crowd of hundreds of college students to not move for 15 seconds), and a long refrain of “Pop the molly, I’m sweatin' — woo!” from “All Gold Everything.” It was 100 percent fun.
You see, the best thing about going to see a DJ versus going to see a band is the whole non-stopness of it. Yes, the DJs will ask you to throw your hands up or take your shirts off or bounce to the right and then to the left, but the beat is constant. No small talk, no guitar tuning, no milling about. The typical lackadaisical Nashville crowd just is not present when dance music is around. There’s sweat, and exhaustion, and sometimes lost shoes. You get what you give.