On Saturday night, the grand finale of Diesel’s international 30th anniversary celebration brought M.I.A., Franz Ferdinand, T.I., N.E.R.D., Hot Chip and Chaka Khan together under one enormous, makeshift tent for a much-hyped Rock and Roll Circus. It was an event of unique collaborations and oddball extravagance, as 5,000 attendees flocked to Pier 3 at Brooklyn’s waterfront for free carnival food and roaming freak circus acts, including fire eaters and sword swallowers. Overhead acrobats, marching bands, monsoons of confetti and two DJ sets from Benji and Joel Madden kept the crowd entertained between performances.
T.I. popped in for a surprise six-song set, and brought out M.I.A. to handle her sample on “Swagga Like Us.” Franz Ferdinand backed the MC on “Live Your Life” before the Scots delved into their own 40-minute set (the longest of the night). Earlier, Hot Chip performed three songs before turning into Chaka Khan’s band for three of her hits, including “I’m Every Woman.”
Just after 1 a.m., M.I.A. ended her brief retirement, taking the stage in spandex and a short leather jacket that revealed her previously hidden pregnant stomach. She and Baltimore rapper Rye Rye ended the five-song set with crowd-favorite “Paper Planes” and an N.E.R.D. cameo. Pharrell repeated “Brooklyn, how do you feel?” and reminded the crowd, “We got to take advantage of this mothafuckin’ moment!” N.E.R.D. did just that, managing to work in a climactic 15-minute set before the party ended at 2 a.m.