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Diesel (Shaquille O'Neal) @ Governors Ball (festival review by Laura T.)

When I heard that Shaquille O’Neal would be playing Governors Ball under the DJ name Diesel, I thought it was an absurd joke. While Shaq really did play Governors Ball Saturday, the absurdity stayed with me through his entire set. I had found myself right by the barricade to the stage, surrounded by teenage boys waving Heat, Pistons, and Lakers jerseys around. The crowd was so energized, cheering and chanting for Shaq’s crew as they set up a dj table made for a giant. When Shaq finally did walk on stage, the crowd erupted. 

 

The set that followed would be exactly what you expect from Shaquille O'Neil. Full of loud bass and smoke machines, Shaq played hits such as Mo Bamba and Nonstop, to a song from the Zelda soundtrack and I Write Sins Not Tragedies. He switched relatively quickly between each song, almost as to not allow for the crowd to get bored. Each track switch was like whiplash, often switching tempos significantly and always swapping genres and mood. While the setlist was chaotic, it was clear the Shaq took his DJing incrediblt seriously, and entertained the crowd incredibly well. From Shaq himself, he would alternate between yelling “Where’s my mosh pit?” and phrases like “let’s go New York!” every minute or so. He would often invite people on stage, and had the vip festival goers join him on stage, cowering in the corner and videotaping him silently. Of the people he invited onstage, one man got behind the dj booth and was barely to be seen above the table, putting into perspective the behemoth who was dropping tracks in front of me. 

 

The crowd was the rowdiest I had seen that day, with everyone headbanging and moshing. I lost my lens cap several times in the mosh before I had to surrender and retreat from the chaos. He had attracted the ravers, the high school boys, and the occasional middle aged adult. Most were just there to see Shaq in real life, as one girl asked me, “is he just going to play other people’s songs?” The overall tone of the set was definitely swayed by this sentiment, as many were watching in disbelief of the set in front of them. Despite that, Diesel's performance held its own, and didn't need his impressive legacy to bolster it, even though that definitely helped bring in the crowds. This set was certainly unforgettable and I was impressed by Shaq’s dedication to DJing as an already world-class athelte.

 

Review and Photo by Laura T.

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