Major Lazer arrived 17 minutes late to the Honda stage Friday night, and the dancehall-seasoned electronic trio doused Zilker park with flames and neon.
Rapper and producer Walshy Fire played master of ceremonies. Former Taylor Swift beau Diplo took turns as DJ and hype man, dressed in all white and a Polo-style cap, oozing professional golf swagger.Trinidadian DJ Jillionaire owned the opening third of the set, then kind of awkwardly stood onstage. A quartet of accomplished dancers accented the performance with unsinkable moves.
Last year’s “Lean On,” which closed Friday’s gig, is one of the world’s most popular songs at 870 million Spotify streams. July’s “Cold Water” was co-written by Ed Sheeran and boasts killer vocals from Justin Bieber; it went off like gangbusters. For their part, Diplo, Jillionaire, and Walshy Fire later donned No. 46 Longhorns jerseys with their names on the back (superstar sophomore linebacker Malik Jefferson wears 46 for Texas on the field). It was smart pandering.
Between remixes of Drake and Desiigner, Major Lazer ran on its brand of global optimism. These are songs you can hear in night clubs from to Johannesburg to Sao Paulo to Austin City Limits.
“If you believe the rest of the world should follow this example,” Walshy Fire said, inferring unity having just shouted out various festival flags. “Put one hand high.”
In the trenches for the Major Lazer set, however, a bro-centric reality. Straight, young, mostly white men grappled with how to feel and act relative to expectations from their friends and society. Major Lazer provided a coming-of-age backdrop, and these are the 10 bros I encountered on the ground.
1) The bro train
The bro train is a chain of bros who put their hands on each others’ backpacks and forcefully move in for a closer view as a unit. Leave no bro behind.
2) The bro who jokes at strangers
Prior to the Lazer show, an apparently inebriated girl tried to find her friend Sarah by desperately yelling, “Sarah!”
“Sarah’s on the other side,” the helpful bro quipped to her.
3) Flag bros
Flag bros are there for their bros by holding a flag and signaling them home. They are steadfast and reliable. “Come And Take It” flags, and also flags featuring Drake, Harambe, and Texas State university were most prominent.
Mexico flags, too: “I see Mexico showing out everywhere,” Walshy Fire said mid-set.
4) Gucci bro
Someone spilled beer on this bro’s shirt, which he immediately said was a Gucci shirt.
“You got it all over my Gucci shirt,” he said.
“Who wears a Gucci shirt to ACL?” the stranger asked.
“I had to.”
Gucci bro thinks that high-end fashion is funny because his favorite rappers celebrate it so much. It’s fun and funny to say the word “Gucci,” and this bro is self-aware and jovial.
5) Meta bro
He’s a talker, and having an incredible time. Not sure how to express himself, he looks to his buddy and simply says: “This is awesome.”
6) Elbow bro
Like in the NFL, you get hurt when you’re not playing full speed. If you don’t join in jumping, don’t be mad when elbows conk you on the head and lower back. Do you even rage, bro?
7) ‘Do you have a cigarette, bro?’
I don’t, sorry man.
8) Man-spreading solo dancer bro
I am entitled to this space. It is mine.
9) Shirtless bro
Major Lazer implored the audience to remove their shirts, then throw them in the air to create a fun moment of crowd participation. Shirtless bro was all in.
10) International bro
International bro prefers to document the journey by asking strangers to take his photo in front of iconic decorations like that big ACL balloon. He’s thrilled to be here and take in Major Lazer, a popular band that he’s heard on the radio in his home country. It’s amazing just to make the trip and man, maybe the world could learn a thing or two from this DJ collective: Here every bro is free to fist pump.