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?



1 year ago
Posted by BossNova

The song (her most popular by far) is called "Paper Planes". If you don't even know that much, why are you reviewing this set? Also, you wish you were a "tastemaker".

1 year ago
Posted by MPM79

It was true that her set did have some technical issues but she powered through impressively. During her last song she actually tried to keep singing (you're confusing that incident with an earlier point where she had to cut a song) without music but the backing track was cut, which I suspect was because she was over running into R Kelly's set. To dismiss the set as some kind of bollywood frat party is to completely miss the potential importance of the music. A pumping, visceral, angry, powerful scream in a Sunday lineup which too often played music by numbers. That music critics are so dismissive of this lady I suspect has more to do with the fact that she's an abrasive Asian/British Lady who doesn't fit the cookie cutter mold. She's also abrasive and sings Hip Hop without going half naked or singing about the well trodden yawnsome hip hop themes. That R Kelly took the headliner instead of her was the greatest travesty of the festival.

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