Major Lazer rocks SA Mad Decent Block Party

DJ Diplo in an inflatable zorb ball. (Kati Auld)

DJ Diplo in an inflatable zorb ball. (Kati Auld)

DJ supergroup Major Lazer headlined the Mad Decent Block Party at the Dias Parking Lot on Heerengracht Street in Cape Town's foreshore on Sunday with a typically bombastic performance. After its South African debut in Johannesburg on Saturday, the party headed to Cape Town on Sunday evening. The pair of shows marked the first time that the label's block parties had been held outside of the US, with the Cape Town-based events company Seed Experiences, who also stage Rocking The Daisies and the We Are One Colour Festival, setting up Major Lazer's trip.

At the height of events season, it was a busy weekend for Cape Town, with the Cape Town Electronic Music Festival rocking the Grand Parade just a few blocks from the Mad Decent party, and US rapper Kendrick Lamar headlining a concert at the Bellville Velodrome.
Despite the stiff competition, a mixed crowd of well over 1 000 people, dominated by students and young Capetonians unperturbed by the prospect of a fatigued Monday morning, turned up in mid-afternoon to watch sets by local and overseas acts including Ruffest, White Nite, Paul Devro, Das Kapital, Sibot, Flosstradamus, and Dillon Francis.  

After a somewhat low-key start in the afternoon sun, energy levels began to rise along with Das Kapital's electro set and the blips and beats of Cape Town trip-hop DJ, Sibot. By the time Flosstradamus took the stage at sunset with their hip-hop inflected electronic dance music, the block party had well and truly found its groove and Dillon Francis carried the now palpable energy through his moombahton-heavy set. But it was Major Lazer that the kids were there to see, so when Diplo, Walshy Fire, Jillionaire and dancers Mela and Lafayette burst on stage the twerking began.

There were several highlights to their set, not the least of which was Diplo's dedication of one of the songs, Major Lazer's soft, melody-laden Get Free to the memory of Nelson Mandela, much to the delight of the crowd. Diplo has made a tradition of crowdsurfing inside a giant, inflatable zorb ball during Mad Decent's block parties in the US, and he brought the toy out early on in the set, as well as repeatedly launching rockets of streamers into the crowd. Both male and female fans were invited on stage to show off their moves during a set that featured almost all of the group's hits.

Pictures by Kati Auld

Stripping out of his classic, fitted three-piece suit – which was soon drenched in sweat during his high-intensity performance – Diplo slipped into a T-shirt, which read "Africa Is The Future". Africa may well be a more important part of Major Lazer's future too, as the group fitted in a debut show in Nairobi as well as their South African events on this trip, and Jamaican DJ Walshy Fire promised that the block party would come back to Cape Town "bigger and better" in the future.

For those who hadn't quite twerked themselves silly during the block party, there was also a guided walk to an afterparty at nightclub Fiction on Long Street, headlined by Diplo, to round up the night.

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