M.I.A. Pitchfork Review: The Lady Loses It

The bass was loud, the scene was festive, and people were dancing. But M.I.A. herself was out of sync and irritated.

Photo: Ray Whitehouse

Remember when M.I.A. took over Pitchfork’s Twitter feed a few years ago and assaulted followers with a onslaught of garbled ASCII party-text trickery and cryptic, often nonsensical messaging? It was kind of annoying—but so insane that you just couldn’t look away.

The same can be said of her show this year at Pitchfork.

There’s no question that the woman knows how to throw a party. This year, that came in the form of massive, multi-colored wheel-shaped lights, and percussionists and back-up dancers in equally festive attire. A load of vibrant beach balls bounced through the audience as well. The Bollywood wedding-scene vibe, not to mention cranked-up-to-11 subs, got people dancing.

But the lady herself was testy and off. Her vocals often lost sync with the beat and she started and stopped few times due to “technical difficulties.” Wrapping up her timeslot with some of her more visible tracks—“Galang” and “Paper Airplanes”—was a good save for some of the hiccups. But she was visibly annoyed during “Bad Girls,” the last song of the night where she fully succumbed to her frustrations and stopped the whole thing. “Cut it!” She yelled. Not a pro move.

But hey, when you’re making appearances at the Super Bowl, what does one little fest full of critics and tastemakers matter?

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