NEW YORK — The Diesel show at Webster Hall Thursday night was on a smaller scale than the denim brand’s 30th-anniversary celebration last year, but with performances from [artist id="1189492"]the Clipse[/artist], [artist id="775"]the Roots[/artist], [artist id="2402281"]Cobra Starship[/artist] and surprise appearances from [artist id="1230523"]Kanye West[/artist] and [artist id="2973634"]Lykke Li[/artist], it packed a powerful punch.
Last October, Diesel celebrated its 30th birthday by throwing parties all over the world in cities like Tokyo, Paris and Sao Paolo. The New York party was held at Brooklyn’s Pier 3, which was transformed into a circus tent featuring high-wire acts, thousands of screaming fans and performances from T.I., Franz Ferdinand, N.E.R.D and a then-pregnant M.I.A.
Thursday night’s show wasn’t nearly as extravagant but, with hundreds of fans packed into the sweltering venue, it was a lot more intimate.
Theophilus London was one of the show’s openers, mashing up dance and electronic music with African rock and jazz to the crowd’s delight. Passion Pit performed next, with a set of winning pop drawn largely from their recent debut LP.
Cobra Starship followed, but they were initially hampered by sound troubles. After lead singer Gabe Saporta pleaded for a new mic, the band continued their set, including a Leighton Meester-less performance of “Good Girls Go Bad.”
Drake was scheduled to perform as well, but rumors were circulating all day that the Toronto MC had pulled out due to his much-publicized ACL injury and was scheduled to be replaced by the Clipse. Those rumors were confirmed when the brothers Thornton could be heard soundchecking their mics as the DJ spun a medley of their tracks. Still, the crowd was caught by surprise when they actually started to perform.
Pusha and Malice tore through a battery of tracks, including “Grindin’,” “Keys Open Doors” and “Mr. Me Too.” The crowd rapped along with every word, and the Clipse rewarded them with a surprise guest: During their performance of “Kinda Like a Big Deal,” Kanye West hit the stage to perform his verse, causing the crowd to erupt. Camera phones lit up to catch West onstage, who stayed there until the song was done.
Finally, the Roots crew closed the show. Black Thought called on the audience to keep the energy up, waving his mic and yelling, “Can I get some head?” The crowd erupted each time the Philly MC asked, causing him to laugh and continue asking.
People in the audience speculated that Jay-Z would join the Roots onstage, but out came Lykke Li instead. The Swedish pop songstress did not disappoint — in fact, she stole the show, mesmerizing the already hyped hip-hop crowd with Roots-backed performances of “Little Bit” and “Dance, Dance, Dance.”
Then she proceeded to “assist” ?uestlove by banging raucously on his drums before joining Black Thought for a performance of “The Seed 2.0″ and concluding with “Breaking It Up.” The MC closed the set with an impressive — to say the least — display of lyrical prowess and lung control.
As they left the stage, some fans began to halfheartedly chant Jay-Z’s name, only to give up, realizing they had enjoyed more than enough.