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?