Review: MIA @ The 9:30

Photo from suitablegirl’s Flickr photostream.

I’m not going to lie. Prior to this concert, I was a blatant MIA hater. It’s not that I hated MIA’s music or message as much as I hated the New York hipster press and the “MIA Will You Marry Me!” bloggers for pumping up some random chick just because she was “the next big thing,” without a critical look at who she was or what she represented.

Fortunately or unfortunately though, MIA has become an ambassador for UK hip hop in these United States, which is a task that East London superstar Dizzie Rascal or even The Streets’ Mike Skinner have failed to accomplish. With this ambassadorship comes responsibility, and MIA’s duty was to convince a somewhat skeptical US crowd that she could carry the torch.

I’ve stated from day one that I was dragged to the show against my own will. However, I was really curious to see if this chick could live up to the hype. I wasn’t really impressed with Arular, MIA’s critically acclaimed album, and I could care less about her mixtape with Diplo, Piracy Funds Terrorism.

I was in for a present surprise.

MIA started the set with “Pull Up The People,” which failed to get the crowd moving. Personally, I think that the ultra-hipster crowd wasn’t ready for MIA’s blend of British hip hop, and it took them a couple songs to get into the groove. But once they got into said groove, this 5 foot 2 Sri Lankan got the party started.

The energy that MIA brought to the stage was completely surprising. The hits, such as Galang, 10 Dollar, and Sunshowers, got the crowd moving from the first note, and DJ Control (who questionably replaced the absent Diplo) mixed in some US crunk under MIA’s vocals to keep the flow moving.

Who is DJ Control? Well, I’m still trying to figure this out. A quick Google search has yielded no clues. Control was either too nervous or too inexperienced to keep up with MIA at times, and the set felt too loose for comfort. Many of the songs ended too abruptly. I’m still puzzled to the fact that Maya’s partner in crime (and constant companion) Diplo wasn’t on stage with her, even though he was spinning in DC that same night.

Between songs, MIA appeared drunk, and she even mumbled something about how people shouldn???t help victims of the recent Tsunami (or something to that effect).

Still, I went from being a MIA hater to a lover in only a half hour. Still, after all of this, I was thoroughly impressed. The enormous amount of energy that she brought to DC was felt in the room after she got off the stage. And fortunately for us, she came out for an encore.

MIA is definitely worth the price of admission. If she comes to your town, you will not be disappointed.