Pop & Hiss

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Diplo and Switch kill the crowd with 'Major Lazer,' AutoTune baby, but not guns

April 23, 2009 |  6:15 pm


At 10 p.m. Wednesday night, the line snaking around Bar Marmont was 50 people deep, each seething with jealousy every time the door would flap open and some starlet would come stumbling out. The lepidopteran-themed bar, home to countless scandalous affairs including, most recently, the LiLo-snubbing Ronson soiree, was hosting Diplo and Switch’s release party for “Major Lazer," the boiling pot of Caribbean that's given birth to new subgenres -- bandanna jah, dancehall spaz -- and everyone wanted inside.

The two DJs, who are best known for supplying M.I.A. with killer-cold backdrops on "Kala " (including, in Diplo's case, her mega-hit "Paper Planes"), set up behind a modest table in the bar's side chamber. They busted out with a tight, quick set culled from the new record that features the contributions of Santigold and dancehall DJ Vybz Kartel, to name a couple. Model-types in hooded dresses and the dudes who love them stomped on the tiled floor, spilling the tidal wave of free drinks that would not stop coming from the Marmont's obsequious bar staff.

Also, it must be noted that the AutoTune baby sample that appeared in M.I.A.'s Coachella set also got dropped into Diplo and Switch's wicked brew. I have a feeling the spawn of T-Pain's spawn isn't going away anytime soon. Expect it to become the latest varietal on the cloying musical meme.

Earlier in the evening at the Renaissance Hollywood Hotel, the ASCAP Pop Music Awards had issued a Vanguard Award to Santigold for helping "shape the future of American music" but she took the time to scramble over to Bar Marmont, get up on a bar table next to the makeshift DJ booth and shout out for her buddies. She was introduced by the wee Amanda Blank; her soothingly scratchy voice brought in a whole slew of guest "sanger"/rappers, including Naeem Juwan Hanks from Spank Rock and Andy Milonakis, who looked baby-faced and androgynous enough to be a new member of "The L Word" cast. The eternally young and jerky comedian spat on the mike a couple of times, bringing vigorous energy but poor enunciation.

By the time the evening wrapped, the room was besodden in free lemondrop shots. Santigold made a hasty getaway, with a big poster for "Major Lazer" under her arm.

-- Margaret Wappler

Photo: From left,Amanda Blank, Diplo, Santigold, Naeem Juwan Hanks and Switch. Credit: Ward Robinson