Remember designing your dream home as a kid?
You'd replace all the stairs with slides and create the ultimate entertainment room. And despite the improbability of having an indoor pool and a giant movie theater screen in the same space, the decisions just felt right. Looking back, it's enough to smile all over again at the idea of what happens when there's seemingly no limitations other than one's imagination.
In many ways, Shaq's Fun House, a relatively new staple of Super Bowl Weekend, similarly seeks to subvert the conventional expectations of what a dance music event should look and feel like by delivering on multiple experiential fronts at once.
On its face, fans can certainly see Fun House shows aren't short on raw talent. This year's edition in Los Angeles saw electronic music heavily represented with Diplo, Zedd, DJ Irie, Shaq's own son Myles O'Neal, and DJ Diesel himself all taking to the decks. Lil Wayne also delivered a headlining set full of rap classics, evoking a sense of late 2000s nostalgia.
Outside of a star-studded talent roster, however, there's nothing "normal" about a Fun House experience. It's a carnival, circus, culinary festival, and concert rolled into one.
The lot outside The Shrine was transformed into a bustling theme park and showered in a spectrum of prismatic lights. Bumper car drivers rattled with glee, attendees glided down an 80-foot giant slide, towering performers on stilts dexterously navigated the venue, and a towering FTX Ferris Wheel gave passengers a bird's eye view of all the action.
Additionally, two perks virtually unheard of in nearly any other concert setting were guaranteed to all ticket-holders: an open bar and complementary food. Diesel took care in selecting some culinary delights that have become staples of L.A.'s fast-casual food scene. Selections included full-sized entrees of Roscoe's House of Chicken 'N Waffles and hotdogs from Pink's straight off the grill.
Under most circumstances, the ideas collectively shaping the Fun House experience would be considered an undertaking too ambitious to handle, and seemingly too all-over-the-place to make any sense of. However, like the dream-house you drew decades earlier, it works if for no other reason because the artist is dedicated to fostering a vision larger than than the sum of the parts.
Shaq's Fun House started from a simple notion—the idea that there has to be more to celebrating the highest stakes in sports than just the same old hand-shaking and small talk.
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"All the other parties, you just come, you stand around and shake hands," Shaq told ABC7. "You go, 'Hey Tom, hey Bob, hey Jamal.' This party is a carnival with rides, favorite restaurants, top restaurants in L.A... Ferris wheel. I paid a lot of money to get this stuff here."
But there's certainly more than sheer spending power at play when it comes to dissecting what's propelled Shaq to success in the dance music space. He's among the rare few who has seen professional success in two of the world's most competitive industries: sports and entertainment. There's a phenomenon whereby many successful professional athletes want to become musicians and vice versa. Despite idealistic notions, making a successful pivot between the two worlds often proves more difficult than it'd initially seem, especially for celebrities with an existing platform.
Diesel's approach is different. Between the community he's built around Fun House and his active dedication to spotlighting the next generation of music producers, he has found a way to contribute to the community on multiple fronts—and fans can't get enough. In a recent interview with EDM.com, Shaq suggested that in order to plant those seeds of success, he first had to become a student of the game.
"Athletes who want to be musicians don’t understand that you can't just use your platform to become successful. If the art you put out is wack, people will politely—or rudely—say, 'No thank you,'" Shaq told EDM.com. "For me, I realized that from the jump. I put myself in the studio with Redman, Erik Ermon, Al Skratch, Def Jef, and other legendary musicians and told them to teach me. It’s all about positioning yourself around the right people."
It's a strategy that's been paying off. During his Fun House appearance, DJ Diesel continued to show fans fans his authentic passion for the space and how he's becoming a part of the genre's future. Much like the spirit of Fun House, in a Diesel set, "anything goes." The set's tracklist spanned decades, going back as early as 1977 with a ceremonial rinsing of Queen's "We Are The Champions," an obligatory anthem given the championship stakes in the air.
Diesel also didn't hesitate to take his own projects for a test run, including his recently released bass house banger "Welcome to the Playhouse" (with Steve Aoki) along with some unreleased tracks in the pipeline, which he created with some of electronic music's most promising young producers. No matter what song was playing, however, you couldn't help but recognize that Shaq seemed to be the happiest guy in the house throughout the night, frequently jumping and headbanging with unmatched fervor.
Overall, Fun House 2022 leaves us excited by Shaq's continued saga in the dance music arena. Wherever the traveling event lands next year, expect a larger-than-life championship energy to follow.