Thursday, May 29, 2008

packed and delivered like UPS trucks

My first thoughts, when the opening band took the stage at the M.I.A. concert last night, were “hey, they’re not a duo, they’re certainly not electronica, and I have serious doubts that they are even Finnish”.

They weren’t. They were some hip-hop quartet whose name I didn’t catch and whose name I don’t even want to know. I pretty much hated them as soon as I saw the trucker hats and the continual crotch-grabbing. Their music was derivative, their lyrics misogynist, and I couldn’t wait for them to leave. Their amps went up to 11, though.

A lot of the audience seemed to adore them, and maybe that had a bearing on what the Resident Offspring referred to as the rudest behaviour that she had ever witnessed at a concert. I’m not saying that hip-hop brings out the worst in people and there are some hip-hop artists whom I really admire, but belligerence in music does tend to transfer to real life. From my safe spot against the wall, I was pretty much shielded from any major rudeness, but I am told there was a serious lack of common concert etiquette being observed last night.

Thankfully the electronic duo from Finland did show up as the second opener and I did like them quite a bit. They played an unusually long set for an opener, though, and considering that electronica is not generally the most visually compelling of acts, they did start to get a little old. Had we been dancing at a rave it might have been a different story, but we weren’t. We were standing at a concert, waiting for M.I.A.

Oh boy did we wait.

Normally I quite enjoy the time between acts at a concert, to sit and contemplate the latest evolution of the indie kid outfit, but last night, probably because I wasn’t feeling all that well, I was starting to get seriously impatient. Finally, close to an hour after the Finns had finished (and just as I was thinking about saying screw you guys I’m going home), the show was on.

And it was a very lively and highly compelling visual and musical effort. Set against a massive backdrop of rapidly evolving and repeating film clips, M.I.A., a DJ, and two backup dancers/singers – a fierce woman with a pink wig and wildly dancing boy – launched into their set and immediately had the audience screaming and jumping and dancing.

I was curious to see how M.I.A. actually makes her music. Would she just have a little boombox beside her, would she be hunched over a couple of turntables? As it turned out, that job fell largely to the DJ, with M.I.A. and her entourage handling the singing and the dancing part. And the dancing was quite flamboyant and impressively well choreographed. Lots of huge arm movements and leaning out to the audience.

And then a most unusual thing happened. I saw security sprint past me toward the access side of the stage just as the fierce woman in the pink wig called for “laaaydeees” to come up on stage to dance. I thought maybe they’d allow 6 or 7 women up for half a song, but no. In pretty short notice there must have been 60 women shaking their groove thangs up on stage whilst M.I.A. sang from the side. Suddenly there was more room down below for the rest of us and I could see the stage quite clearly, although of course by that point I was simply watching other audience members dancing.

After three songs of this, fierce pink wig woman then called for the “booooooyssss” to come up and join them and instantaneously there were at least 100 people on stage, shaking what their mommas and their daddies gave them. It all got a little surreal for me at that point, but I did appreciate the interactivity of the process. And nobody fell to their deaths.

M.I.A. delivered a well-received and lively act, albeit one of the briefest performances I have ever seen in a headliner – 45 minutes, with perhaps another 10 for the encore. Put against the hour-long wait for her set to begin, the math didn’t exactly add up for me, but by that point I needed my bed anyway. For the first time ever, I felt like I was a little too old to be part of this audience, but I'm hoping it was just the ill health talking.

sort of a highlight: M.I.A. announcing during the encore that she had just gotten engaged. “To a Canadian. Which makes us sort of related.” That was sweet.

- the Finnish electronica duo were called Top Billing, which I think is an atrocious name, and it got me thinking about good bands with bad names. (Radiohead of course used to be called On a Friday)

Questions of the day:
good bands with bad names, do they stand a chance?
what's the worst band name for an otherwise good band?


John Mutford said...

I'm not crazy on the name !!!
What are we supposed to refer to them as? The Three Exclamation Points? Had they a previous name, we could at least rely on "The band formally known as..." And I'm not crazy on duos that just name their members (Tegan and Sara, Belle & Sebastian). I always picture something more frivolous at first (like t.a.t.u. or Hall and Oates).

John Mutford said...

Oh and glad you enjoyed the show.

Gifted Typist said...

Zoiks! I'm sure you were glad when they - sorry, I can't help this - Finnished.

good band with bad names Broken Social Scene. To me that is a self-regarding name that is trying too hard to be hip and cool. But I like their music.

Gifted Typist said...

Dear God Zombie, I just had a hit from

Western Finland, Jyväskylä, Finland,

Do you think they are monitoring you and the people who visit you?

Anonymous said...

I went to the concert last night as well, and I was rather disappointed with the wait between sets. I also had a particularly bad experience when this guy right in front of me decided to remove his shirt and use this and his girlfriend as a mechanism to give themselves as much space as possible.
I have no complaints as far as M.I.A's set (besides the length), I've definitely never had so much fun at a concert. Somehow, I also got pushed from the middle right up to the front in a matter of minutes, all the better to enjoy the dancing and singing on the stage, I guess. Good to hear you enjoyed the performance though!
-hilary m.

Will said...

I've seen far too many observations of bad concert etiquette that it has kind of soured the experience for me. The Gnarls Barkley crowd was especially lame. I saw M.I.A. a couple years ago and the set was brief. Though she was the opener and that was for her first album. Who knows?

justacoolcat said...

Answer; no band stands a chance.

So are you telling me it's time to stop grabbing my crotch when I perform?

Cuz that's messed up, yo.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

Aren't they normally called "chk chk chk", John? But yes, you are right, it's as though they chose that name to annoy and flummox people. Which they probably did.
True, just calling a duo after their members' names is lame. However, in defence of Belle and Sebastian (whose name I am not crazy about btw), they are neither a duo, nor were they named after band members, although there used to be an Isobel (Campbell) in the band. They were in fact named for a French children's show.
But you knew that.
Yeah, it was a decent concert. Hives were better though.

The Finns are out to get you for making puns using their nationality, Gifted! Beware.
Broken Social Scene IS a trying pretty hard name, I never considered that before. Good one.

I think that guy walked by me, Hilary, or someone equally as spicy. It sounds like you had a great time, I just don't think I was in the right frame of mind last night, especially after having such a stellar experience at the Hives a few days before.
Are you working the record tent again?

Most of the people that I run into at concerts are actually really great, Will. You need to come to some concerts up here, obviously.
Maybe MIA just doesn't do long sets, which is fine. But the having to wait forever until she started bit was rather annoying.

Do you mean perform as in singing, JustA or perform as in ... well never mind, either way it's wrong. Just stop it!

John Mutford said...

Thanks for the music lesson chk chk chk


I must be getting old Barb, none of that sounded like fun to me. And I'm not even sick.

Anonymous said...

Sloan were originally going to call themselves Cindy. Yeah, just "Cindy". I am sure glad they did not.

I have also always thought that the Plastic Ono Band was a godawful name but I am sure I will get yelled at by someone for that one, haha.

There's a song by a band called Pacific Gas & Electric on the Death Proof soundtrack, which mostly makes me wonder whether they ended up the targets of a C&D.

bloody awful poetry said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bloody awful poetry said...

Oooh sounds like it was a great show! And what's this Finnish duo called again?

Oh and guess what? I may just be heading it over to an Arctic Monkeys gig next month, and possibly Deathcab for Cutie in August.I love my country!!

Allison said...

After the Guillemots concert on Tuesday I think I'm only going to partake in shows where I can sit. Although I do like to dance, its the waiting in between that always kills me. Sounds like she put on a good performance, even at its short length. And very good that no one was hurt as they danced on the stage.

Learning on a Friday morning, I didn't know B&S where named after a children's show...and On a Friday? Bah! So glad Radiohead decided against that. I'm not a fan of band names that contain numbers. Although when they spell out the number (i.e. Gang of Four) I can tolerate it more.

Barbara Bruederlin said...

And a right bombastic lesson it was too, John, sorry about that.

It wasn't for everybody, Blondie, I felt less at home than I normally do at a concert. And I wasn't even the oldest one there.

Cindy? Woof. Sloan is certainly way superior to that, Ruh. Good thing they came to their senses, although I do wonder if you would still be as big a fan if that was their name.

Yay! More concerts for you, BAP! I just found out Bloc Party is coming here in the fall. My favourite drummer! I'm up for that.
The Finnish duo were called Top Billing. Bad name, good band.

Sit down concerts do seem advisable for the foreseeable future, Al. Wise move.
I actually quite like Gang of Four for the historical reference.
But bands with numbers are generally as bad as what I call vanity plate bands, like INXS and MSTRKRFT, which I always read as "inks" and "muskrat" respectively.

Anonymous said...

I will most definitely be at the record tent again, along with a couple friends.

Dale said...

I enjoy the fact that Top Billing did not have it. M.I.A. sounds like fun though. Wish you were feeling younger, I mean better!