Intermittent tinges of ganja waft through the vast expanse of Brooklyn Bowl's high ceilings as those who were disobedient enough to wait in line before the specified time of seven o' clock on October 6th wait for M.I.A.'s free show to start. Why the free show was necessary is a result of a vaguely ruined performance as a result of the type of rain that comes equipped with thunder and lightning at HARD Fest back in July on the beauteous Governor's Island. M.I.A., not one to be utterly compliant, was inclined to take a leisurely amount of time before appearing onstage after her recent musical obsession, Rye Rye, performed a brief set.
The frenetic and sassy duo recently released a single together called "Bang" and, even more recently, "Sunshine." Some might find easy comparisons to draw between the musical stylings of both, though I think Rye Rye sort of sounds like Left Eye from TLC, whereas M.I.A. doesn't really sound like anyone else. So yeah, after Rye Rye danced around in this awesome blonde wig, sequined black sweatshirt, and like gold lamé pants with her extremely hireable backup dancers, about an hour and a half passed in what can best be likened to either waiting for the subway in the middle of July or standing in the Sahara dance tent at Coachella--fucking hotter than a latke fresh of the skillet.
Once the heat from the packed bodies had created a new layer on my skin, M.I.A.'s dancers emerged to the backing vocals from /\/\/\Y/\'s first track, "The Message," an ominous musical concoction that insists, "Connected to the internet, connected to the government." Once "The Message" was received, M.I.A. began singing "Illygirl," a song you would only recognize if you had purchased the deluxe version of /\/\/\Y/\. But it was actually a good choice to open with this song, being that it sticks to the typical "fuck you, I don't care what songs you like of mine" fashion that M.I.A. has cultivated. In keeping with this theme, M.I.A. followed up with one of the less popular songs off Kala, "World Town." Then, as if systematically paying homage to her early musical days, she delved into "Galang," the song that literally launched her into commerciality when it was played in the background of an iTunes commercial.
Continuing her unexpected jaunt into the Arular album, M.I.A. performed the always crowd-pleasing "Sunshowers," with a little help from Rye Rye. Afterward, around the time she started singing "Boyz," followed by "Bamboo Banga," M.I.A. casually let herself fall into the crowd and was led to the top of a door frame of the side exit by the stage. She opted to stay there for awhile (it's a really big door frame, almost the size of a miniature stage), which seemed like an impromptu decision, but one never knows what is planned and what is not when it comes to live performances. The crowd's energy only amplified when she returned to the main stage to sing some further unexpected selections that included "XR2," "Lovalot," "Story To Be Told," "Born Free," "Teqkilla," and, her crowning jewel, "Paper Planes"--which I have to stay I still don't hate in spite of how much it was overplayed in the wake of the Pineapple Express trailer.
Although there was an abnormal interlude between the "last song" ("Born Free") and the encores, "Teqkilla" and "Paper Planes," I was still able to see M.I.A. belt that shit out after a brief nap on one of Brooklyn Bowl's almost cruelly comfortable couches. I say cruel because I feel like it's just setting a girl up to be taken advantage of in her vulnerable, drunken state of semi-consciousness and, therefore, willingness to talk to anyone. And no, this is not what happened to me. In any case, M.I.A. definitely delivered on her promise to make it up to her fans who had to suffer through the allegedly atrocious July 24th performance at Governor's Island. Not that I was one of them. Just a reaper of the benefits.