January 2, 2016
When talking about cultural icons and trendsetters, Thomas Wesley "Wes" Pentz should definitely be at the forefront of that list. As the DJ and producer Diplo, he tours the world as a solo act, as well as with his Major Lazer crew and as Jack Ü, his collaboration act with fellow DJ/producer Skrillex. Over the last five to ten years, Diplo has performed at almost every major music festival in the world, taking his twerk-inducing music and energy to the masses of partygoers who relish the chance to shake their butts and bask in the positivity of his track selections and original compositions. Diplo is a king of the Snapchat Generation, managing to stay relevant by keeping up to date with every new meme, viral song, and dance, and sometimes creating a few of his own.
The first time I witnessed a Diplo show was at Free Press Summer Fest 2012, where he DJ'd at one of the smaller stages, under a dome structure of metal if my memory serves me correctly. Even with a shaky and unreliable DJ table, he was able to produce one of the most delightful sets of the year, always keeping his positive attitude and providing a show that kept the crowd jumpin'. Since then I've witnessed Mad Decent shows in five cities, secret Jack Ü shows for about 150 people in Austin, massive sets at EDC, and Major Lazer sets at several other festivals. He is certainly one of the hardest-working artists in the business.
Houston still definitely supports him, which was evident when all the tickets to his first show sold out in minutes, prompting a second and then a third night. On Saturday, the day after New Year's Day, a healthy crowd showed up early to Stereo Live as the doors were set to open at 9 p.m. However, due to a late sound check and last-minute preparations, the doors to the main room did not actually open until almost 10:30 p.m. This left many of us out on the patio suffering in the cold, even though the venue did provide a handful of heaters for warmth. Once the doors were opened, the venue took about an hour to fill up completely.
The mood was lively and loud. From the looks of it, most people didn't get enough excitement from their New Years Eve parties and were trying to compensate at this show. Once Diplo made it to the stage, the massive crowd erupted in cheers as he began with "Look At My Dab" by Migos. Have you ever seen a roomful of people lower their head to their arm repeatedly as they smile wide? It is both hilarious and disconcerting at the same time, but it was a perfect way to begin the night.
What followed was about two hours of a genre-hopping, remixed cacophony of fun. Some may call what Diplo does EDM, but it really is so much more than that. Yes, there is electronic music, and yes it makes you dance, but he pulls tracks from hip-hop to reggae, salsa to rock, reggaeton to house. In a five-minute span, I heard him jump from "Gasolina" by Daddy Yankee to Lil Wayne's "A Milli," and then "Sorry" by Justin Bieber to "Mundian To Bach Ke" by Punjabi MC. He is equally versatile as a producer, having brought MIA to prominence, made tracks for Beyonce, collaborated with Snoop Lion on a reggae album, and recently helped Bieber on his latest album success.
Of course, because this is Houston, he dropped in several H-Town classics, such as Chamillionaire's "Ridin' Dirty" and Lil Troy's "Wanna Be a Baller." His special guest for the evening was Trae Tha Truth, who performed "Yeah Hoe" and "Try Me," much to the bewilderment and approval of the crowd.
It still amazes me how energetic his shows are; there is no standing still. When the main act is jumping on and off tables and yelling dance moves into the mike, you really can't help but to move. The whole room is a twerk contest, and everybody is a winner.
Of course the biggest shouts and hardest dancing happens with "Pon De Floor," "Watch Out For This," and "Original Don," three of his biggest Major Lazer hits. The lights, confetti cannons, and ballon drops make this show that much more amazing, and it will be hard not to include this as one of the year's best shows twelve months from now. The night ends with "Lean On", Post Malone's "White Iverson" and RiFF RaFF's "Dolce & Gabanna."
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Diplo... continually saucin' on you, swaggin' on you.
When he's not roaming around the city in search of tacos and graffiti, Marco points his camera lens toward the vibrant Houston Music scene and beyond. You can follow his adventures on Instagram: @MarcoFromHouston.