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Concert Review: M.I.A. Live at Terminal 5 in New York City

Selling out two nights at New York City’s Terminal 5, M.I.A. aka Mathangi “Maya” Arulpragasam showed why she blew up into the international recording star she is today. At Friday’s show she gained media attention having the exiled Julian Asssange Skype in to be the opening act. Last night she kept the political discourse to a minimum, but the night was nothing short of off the wall excitement.

As soon as my guest for the evening and I walked into the venue it struck us that the sound system was too soft. You didn’t have to shout for the person standing six inches from your face to hear you. What’s up with that, Terminal 5, we can take it. Crank that shit.

Despite that, The Partysquad raged on, living up to their moniker. MC Ruben enjoyed himself enough he thought it was Tuesday, and DJ Jerry pumped out hot beat after hot beat. Unfortunately they stuck The Partysquad in the corner of the stage where MIA’s DJ would soon be, so it blocked any good view of them for half of the crowd. And out of those people about half knew what was going on. At and EDM show everyone would have been losing their freakin’ minds, their set was diverse and bangin’, compiling trap and festival house music to get the crowd hyped. But many fans appeared too ‘cultured’ for the rave shenanigans and patiently waited for M.I.A. to make her appearance. Most in the coat check line that took over a flight of stairs.

On the eve of releasing her fourth studio album, Matangi, M.I.A. brought the party for everyone willing to make it out on a Monday night. The low volume issues continued as the music was overpowering her voice for most of the night. It didn’t bug me as much as I thought it would because it really added to the trance factor of the moombahton-influenced tribal ritual happening in front of us. Back-up dancers clad in camo gear worked the stage feverishly as  the neon tapestry-like lights behind them had me spellbound most of the show.

The gangsta gypsy hypnosis continued for almost two hours, and M.I.A. proved she has more swag and charisma in her pinky finger than most of us could ever hope to possess in our lifetimes. Waving a fan in front of her face like she was ready to fight you with it, she blazed through new tracks like “Y.A.L.A” and dipped into her catalogue showcasing “Galang,” “Bad Girls,” and more off her previous efforts Maya and Kala. An encore consisting of her breakout hit “Paper Planes” sent the audience into a smokey, pantomimed sing a long, and when she finally left the stage the audience lingered until they turned the lights up, still hoping for more.

Next up, M.I.A makes a stop at Austin, TX’s Fun Fun Fun fest before taking over L.A. for two nights as well. Go out and see her if you can. An M.I.A. show doubles as a clinic on How to Be a Boss 101 and is damn sure to leave any music fan satisfied.

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