Renowned Jamaican-American DJ rocks crowd at Muzique
While the temperature slowly declined to a frigid low, Montrealers sought refuge at a dancehall-inspired function this past Friday, featuring a member of Major Lazer—one of the world’s biggest musical groups—Walshy Fire.
With sounds from the Caribbean islands being the closest thing to warmth on a cold, Canadian night, Major Lazer’s unique crossover sound of electronic music and reggae/dancehall was exactly what the clubgoers needed.
Walshy’s show was held at Muzique, one of Montreal’s most popular clubs. Labelled as one of his “Rum and Bass,” parties, the show was Montreal’s first edition of the Miami-born Carribean-vibe event, which Walshy has brought to other major cities like Los Angeles and New York City.
Coincidentally, a second member of the Major Lazer trio was also performing in town on Friday night. Diplo headlined the first night of Igloofest, which was one of the winter festival’s largest turnouts in its history, bringing in close to 10,000 attendees. While hopefuls speculated a surprise appearance from the superstar DJ at the Rum and Bass party, the lack of an official mention from the club or its organizers kept them unsure.
Muzique regular DJ Mekki curated the venue’s music from 10 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. It was nearly -20 C outside the club’s neon light walls. The room was slow to fill—a common occurence on any night of a big-name performer.
By 11:30 p.m., Stef Agostino, resident DJ at Muzique on Fridays and renowned EDM-haven New City Gas on Saturdays, took the reigns. Around midnight, the club’s room with a “top 40” and EDM setlist left little space to dance, as it boasted groups of university students and 20-somethings anxiously awaiting the night’s headliner. Those in the club’s hip hop room slowly began to shift into the other space.
Around 1 a.m., as the club began to reach capacity and people’s shoulders brushed against each other to the electrifying rhythm, a wild Walshy appeared. The beanie-wearing Jamaican-born DJ had arrived. Standing behind the DJ booth, he eyed the equipment and scanned the crowd, radiating an experienced, calm energy as he sipped from a bottle of iced tea.
After a few minutes, the crowd had migrated to the center of the dancefloor, facing Walshy and his booth. It was 1:30 a.m., the people were drunk and ready.
Walshy greeted the crowd on the mic to loud signs of content and rewarded patience. He began a long playlist of Major Lazer hits and—trust me—there are even more than you can imagine. “Lean On,” “Cold Water,” “Run It Up;” the crowd sang the lyrics to each song effortlessly. Walshy’s playlist included mixes of more traditional dancehall tracks as well, including “Bruk Off Yuh Back” by Konshens and “I’m Drinking / Rum & Redbull” by Beenie Man, which got the Caribbean music lovers in the crowd even more excited.
“I want to hear my Jamaican people in the crowd tonight,” Walshy said. “My Trini people? Where are my Africans at? Nigeria? Kenya?,” seemingly calling out the entire United Nations.
The crowd danced and jumped to the slick, masterful mixing of the veteran DJ, as he continued to interact with them, keeping their energy high and their hands in the air. Then, around 2:30 a.m., a commotion from the crowd broke the drunken, energetic spell that Walshy held over them. People started to push to the front, and there he was: Diplo had indeed made a surprise appearance. Beside Walshy, he swayed to the beat, as if unsatisfied with the end of his Igloofest performance. He needed more.
Diplo slid into the DJ area with Walshy and the two began to mix their tracks, side-by-side, in a reunion the club had been hoping for all night.
“I had never seen anyone in Major Lazer perform before, but I loved it,” said Sanya Khuller, a third year international student at McGill University. “They played amazing songs to dance to all night, and I definitely didn’t expect Diplo to show up at all.”
For Sabrah Khanyari, a third year honours psychology student from India, a celebrity crush fantasy came true at Muzique that night. “I kind of have a crush on Diplo, so when I looked up as I was dancing and saw him; that was definitely the best part of the night for me.”
Diplo’s unexpected appearance added an exciting spark to the festival-like performance by Walshy—it was the cherry on top. After the night’s success, Jason Tull, co-owner of Muzique and one of the organizers of the event, is confident in a future collaboration between Major Lazer and Muzique.
“Walshy is part of the family, so whenever he’s in the area we are always excited to have him and any special guests he brings along,” Tull said.