M.I.A. + The Cool Kids @ Metropolis

By Döc Holidæ - Phantastiq Cypha - 11/26/2007

It was an ugly day on November 26th as I made my way to the M.I.A. concert at Metropolis. I was somewhat excited and a little nervous; there was a lot of pressure to like her performance.  I was attending the show with two dedicated fans, Electric Ant and Rae Rae from The Siamese Libertines and could feel the peer pressure. We’re not talking cigarette-style pressure, but more along the lines of knowing that the people you’re with are really into the music and will make this an enjoyable show no matter how much you like or dislike the music. With that thought in mind, I walked in, confident that this was going to be a great night.

Making a comfortable spot for ourselves in front of the sound man, we waited patiently for the show to start. The Cool Kids from Fool’s Gold Records were the opening act. Electric Ant, Rae Rae and I were lucky enough to have seen these two MCs and one DJ in NYC during the CMJ Music Marathon and were excited to see them perform again. We were not disappointed; The Cool Kids brought just as much energy to this show as they did to their New York performance. All I kept thinking was no matter where these guys are, I’m sure they put in everything they’ve got. From their on-stage banter, to the stories of being stopped at Canadian customs, to their line about being “the black beastie boys,” there was never a dull moment during their 45 minute set. When they were done, the crowd cheered and the houselights went back on.

At this point, music was playing over the huge speakers but no one paid much attention -– everyone was growing impatient to see M.I.A. It wasn’t that the intermission was long but after such a great opener, you don’t want the energy to go down. Just when it felt like we were waiting forever, the lights dimmed and a DJ hit the turntables with a hype-girl shouting: “Are you ready for M.I.A.?”.  When M.I.A. finally came on, I excitedly moved closer to the stage and put my earplugs in ‘cause I forgot how loud crowds get (see The Roots review).

As I have mentioned on my radio show recently, I don’t know much about M.I.A. –- I don’t know her back story or any of her older songs. I’ve only experienced Kala, and to be honest, I wasn’t impressed. It’s not that the album is bad, but I just didn’t get into it, which was another reason I was nervous about attending the show. In any case, I tried to ignore my past reaction to the music and start to experience M.I.A. anew. I couldn’t tell you the name of her songs, I can’t even tell you which album they were from because there were so many tracks performed that night and all of them were amazing. M.I.A. has the best stage appeal I’ve seen since The Roots, and those who compare her to Lady S.O.V. are mistaken. M.I.A. and S.O.V. are not in the same boat when it comes to live performances.

As these thoughts were racing through my head during show, the song “Paper Planes” came on. It’s the only song I knew well enough to sing along to and I wasn’t alone.  While it might not have been the crowds’ favourite, the track had quite a few people dancing up a storm. I couldn’t tell you what song she sang as she invited only women on stage, but I can say the women in the crowd were losing it. The girl next to me was dancing so hard she almost fell over, and another girl hit me in the chest with her flailing arm.  Obviously this song struck a note.

After clearing the stage, M.I.A. invited everyone back on a few tracks later to the same result from the crowd. As she ended her show and left the set, it was evident the crowd wasn’t done with her. She took the stage for a few more tracks and gave us all something to take home: an intense concert experience. I can easily say I’m a born again M.I.A. fan and I can’t wait to see her next performance in Montreal.

For M.I.A. and The Cool Kids’ hipster-style show at Metropolis, I give a Category 4 Storm Watch.

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