Florida has been getting a bad rap lately. And though it might seem at times like we're a lost cause, that assessment isn't entirely fair. We're actually a global cultural force that spawned Major Lazer, one of dance music's most inspiring and original outfits. Members Diplo and Walshy Fire are home-grown goods, the former coming straight from Miami-Dade County. Along with their buddy Jillionaire, these guys travel the world to deliver Caribbean-style beats, peace, and love to the masses.
The crew's live show is a hype machine. It's a colorful, quirky experience full of island dancing, confetti, stage-diving, hamster-ball-walking — you kind of have to see it to believe it.
"We are, at its foundation, a representation of the Caribbean, and if you are Caribbean yourself or if you know anything about Caribbean culture, you'd know that it's so interactive," Walshy points out. "If we didn't add those elements to the show, it just would not be true to the foundation that we're mixing EDM with."
Major Lazer at Mad Decent Block Party in Fort Lauderdale August 3
Major Lazer: As part of Mad Decent Block Party. With Zeds Dead, Flosstradamus, Big Gigantic, Riff Raff, Kito+Reija Lee, Herobust, DZA, and Robb Bank$. 2 p.m. Saturday, August 3, at Revolution Live, 954-449-1025, jointherevolution.net. Tickets cost $34.50 plus fees via ticketmaster.com. All ages.
But it's not just Caribbean culture they integrate into their music and shows. Walshy prides himself and his crew on bringing in a little of everything, thus becoming a reflection of everyone.
"People have called me 'the ambassador of culture' just because I'm so good with languages and so good with different cultures, and I know so many things about so many different people," he admits. "I want you to walk away and feel so proud that you are what you are and so proud that we're onstage representing for you, no matter where you come from in the world.
"It's all about love," Walshy says. "It's all about sharing good music. If you come to a Major Lazer show, we want you to just experience something different. We want you to just walk away saying, 'You know what? I appreciate them coming with something completely different than what everybody else is doing.' "
They've been doing it for a while, and everything is only getting bigger. But in all of their world travels, they take as much away from each community they visit as they bring to the stage.
"You really start to understand that we are so similar, we're all part of this one race, y'know? This one human race," he says. "You start to really see it when you go to Australia, you go to New Zealand, you go to China, and the people react to the songs the same way. They party the same way, they love, they get angry, they do everything the exact same way. So you just wonder, how is it these walls got put up? How did we separate ourselves from each other like this?"
It's a fitting observation for a group on a tour called Free the Universe. Walshy, for one, has accepted the mission.
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"Man, just do what you want to do," he urges the world. "That means in every way: sexually, religiously, and whatever other '-ly' there is. Just do what you want to do, man. Be happy."
Walshy, Major Lazer, and the rest of their homies are looking to do just that with their exciting Mad Decent Block Party tour, stopping at Fort Lauderdale's Revolution Live this Saturday. Zeds Dead, Flosstradamus, Big Gigantic, and even local rapper Robb Bank$ will also perform for what's sure to be a rowdy show, drawing on all these ideas of community, culture, and just plain good times.
"I don't know what it is about a block party that just injects fun automatically," Walshy says. "Some of these shows have like 10,000 people at them, but we want to give them a family vibe.
"Two things," he concludes. "One: Bring your flags. Bring 'em. Everybody bring your flag. Two: Do not dress in something you care about. That's all I can say. Dress for the mess."