M.I.A. headlined the Hard NYC festival on Governor's Island on Saturday. Plagued by sound problems, she bombed and cut the set off early. To round out the night she spit into the face of a photographer (see pics here).
The opening acts were handpicked by M.I.A. and her label, N.E.E.T. Recordings, included Sleigh Bells, Die Antwoord, and Rye Rye and upstaged her by many accounts. On Sunday the New York Times published a scathing review of M.I.A.'s performance. The paper called her political stunts (backup singers in burqas, sampling of gunshots) "murky," like her sound:
The set started with "Steppin Up," with M.I.A. backed by about a dozen power drills as part of the rhythm track: noise triumphant. But M.I.A.'s vocals were often so buried in echo, and the bass so bloated, that her lyrics just became more of the din, and the songs that she segued together like a disc-jockey set were barely distinguishable. Instead of a barrage, it was a morass.
Her set was cut short by thunder and lightning, which she attributed to God and answered with a last defiant gesture: rapping "Born Free," which vows to speak her mind, a cappella as her backup group shut down. But an exodus from her set had begun well before the downpour.
An anonymous commenter on Brooklyn Vegan was less polite:
"the show last night [ridiculous] and awesome and bad, and magic--mia [sucked] so bad, she must must have done [it] on purpose. she's got some tricks and some ideas, but [I] think she just got so cagey when die anterwoord blew her out of the water that she pulled this weird ass rockstar theatrics and sabotaged herself and the sound system, along with throwing a big fuck you to the crowd that actually came to see her. [I] mean at some point before she went on, they cut the Dj off and there was this whole sound from the backstage VIP area, and the crowd got [to] listen to it for a few minutes in silence, and it was like "that's were the party is at, suckers". I don't know if she drinks or not, but the bit about having a shot of [tequila] in her seemed by far the realest part of the night. The best was the rain over the lazers, but she didn't even know how to make that to work for her, so it seemed like Nature taking pity on her."
M.I.A. blamed her awful performance, for which fans paid $55 a ticket, on her sound team and something bigger (God?):
"money doesnt buy u shit! i thought more money means better sound guys in america/\/\/\! i was wrong, the higher u go , they turn u lower!" she tweeted on Sunday. Then, ">>>> EUROPE! >>>> NEW BRITISH SOUND TEAM! but the lesson is, its not technology! that still didn't stop us! its bigger then that!"
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