M.I.A – Sonar Festival 2011 (Review)

Last night I went to the Sonar Festival in which M.I.A was performing. We got there and because it is a festival with a couple of stages, the main stage was quite free and we managed to be first row against the barrier. I had never seen her live, I had not read any reviews and I didn’t really know what to expect.

She opened with Galang and the place quickly became electric: the lightning was against us as the stage remained in the shadows, which was very unpractical to take pictures but somehow managed to create an atmosphere. She was supported by a woman and a man that entertained the crowd and rapped along with her. There was also a dancer doing all sorts of body popping moves/having a fit, alternatively.

The gig was vibrant, fast and frenetic, and M.I.A is crazy. Two songs into the setlist she had climbed against the barriers (pic above) much to security’s dismay. When they managed to pull her down she went back on stage and climbed up some huge speakers. Were the speakers secure? Of course not. You could see the security men running up to grab the speakers in case something happened.

A highlight of the night was Bucky Done Gun. It was hugely well received and M.I.A and her people contributed to it with their dancing. They tried to get the crowd to chant a few times but people didn’t seem to catch up on it.  At some point she came back and climbed the barriers again, only that this time she let herself fall into the crowd, but security quickly dragged her out, only for her to climb again to the speakers. They must have really hated her.

That is the setlist she performed except for Sun Showers. The songs were chained like a long DJ mix, there was not a pause between them, they just jumped from one to the other nonstop. It had been quite intense from the beginning but with Paper Planes it was when the whole place really went INSANE. From there I don’t really remember much apart from jumping a lot and attempting to record with my camera until Meds And Feds, because there, the guy and the woman came up to the crowd and started grabbing people and pulling them up to the stage. When I jumped the barrier security had already blocked the stairs to the stage so around 25 people were up there and they wouldn’t allow anyone else to go up despite having M.I.A and her people beckoning us to do it. So we danced to Born Free from the stairs and I recorded the crowd. This is a screencap from the video:

And this is M.I.A on stage with people:

See that podium with microphones?

At the end of the gig, she pushed it down those stairs.

Key word: Adrenaline.


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