More often than not, rave-type concerts such as these all start the same way. A drawn-out, two-hour DJ set building up to the main event. Usually such DJs are a good warm up, but after the first 30 minutes the repetition and monotony of worn-out songs start slowing down time and drawing out the night. If time was already slowed down for you in the first place then you're golden, but if you're stone-cold sober or down to your last dollar for cocktails you're in for a long night.
The one thing that made Thursday night's opening DJ set a worthy ritual is that it built anticipation for the real show -- the one that brought everyone together. This excruciating suspense for the music, the dancing and the wild stage performances was even more intense in those final moments after the opener left the stage empty for the headliner. As the house lights were finally cut and a loud roar from the audience filled the darkness, the roller coaster teetered on the peak of a plummet before the ride to follow.
Major Lazer is known for it's over the top productions, whether it be its music videos or its live performance. The night was set off in this spirit with a comic book-style cinematic display depicting Mr Lazer himself launching off into space to "Free the Universe" in a nod to the group's latest release and current tour. Finally, after an evening of waiting and a cartoon short, the curtains fell and Diplo, Walshy Fire and Jillionaire took the stage accompanied by their seductive Rastafarian booty dancer as they handed out vuvuzelas and prepared the crowd for a night of insanity.
The floor practically began warping under the stress as the full three tiers of the Pageant were assaulted by the hundreds of bodies suddenly jumping in unison to the bombastic beats. Lazer played through a good variety of tracks as well as some new material including a "Harlem Shake" remix that made for yet another hilarious YouTube video. A jubilant, South African-style song brought an interesting flavor to the venue as the vuvuzelas blasted as arms and legs moved on their own to the sounds. And of course the old standby, "Pon de Floor," had things going a bit crazy.
The stage performance was absolute sensory overload coupled with the music. A DJ climbed around on all the equipment as another rolled through the crowd in a giant bubble while the other blasted confetti guns through the thick fog and intricate light show that provided a fitting otherworldly party atmosphere. While they were occupied commanding the stage, the DJs also interacted with the crowd. They weren't afraid of rewinding and restarting a track if they didn't think the crowd was crazy enough on the drop. They encouraged the audience to take off and spin around an article of clothing, resulting in a dizzying display of twirling t-shirts that practically propelled the crunked-out crowd off the ground.
At one point, the show turned into amateur hour when the stage was suddenly full of girls from the crowd proudly shaking what their mothers gave them. The strange spectacle and incredible energy went non stop throughout the night in a musically driven rave on a level that is rarely witnessed around these parts.
After a generous three-song encore, Major Lazer retired its set and the sweat-drenched party people slowly filed out to the relief of the cold St. Louis night, mostly in a haze of what had actually transpired that night. Many will try to explain to others what happened, only to miss the essence entirely. It was something that just had to be seen to believe.