Review: M.I.A. Falls HARD in NYC


Pushing and shoving, hot sweaty shoulders pressing up against strangers’ backs, and paying $4 for bottled water isn’t the best way to spend a Saturday night. Yet thousands did, braving the 95-degree heat to witness M.I.A. and friends perform at the HARD NYC festival on Governors Island.

The day started off in a Woodstock-inspired setting, infiltrated by a crowd donning Urban Outfitters and geometric-print attire. Around 5 p.m., after a set by DJ Destructo, M.I.A. protégée Rye Rye took to the stage and showed off her calisthenics. As she brought out twin eyewear divas Coco and Breezy, the audience appeared hype for her remix to Miley Cyrus’ “Party in the U.S.A.” crafted by DJ Sega.

Dance duo Skream + Benga tore the house down with the longest set. Their fusion of harsh sound effects with fist-pumping techno beats kept the audience’s eardrums ringing. The simple twosome known as Sleigh Bells then graced the stage and rocked the daylight out of the crowd. Two fights rang out, but soon after all was copasetic. Next up, South African duo Die Antwoord permeated unsuspecting concertgoers with an interesting (and sometimes uncomfortable) interpretation on lust. Just around midnight, spectators became antsy for the headliner, which they didn’t know would put on a brief performance.

M.I.A. came out to a long intro, performing the noisy “Steppin Up.” Minutes later, she brought out three tables decorated with bottles of tequila. While performing the liquor-inspired track off her new album /\/\/\Y/\, she drew out the time by asking the audience, “Who wants to feel the beat?” only to throw full glass bottles of tequila into the crowd. “You have to catch them!” she forewarned. The crowd was later asked what they’d like her to perform next because she had no set list. Another 10 minutes went down the drain until she decided on the crowd favorite “Boyz,” which led into “World Town.”

At this point, the sky erupted and pouring rain cascaded over the event. M.I.A. stuck around until she was drenched, which took all but three minutes, before throwing her failing microphone into the audience, giving the proverbial “Peace out!” and sauntering off the stage with her crew. Where headliners usually bring in the bulk, this time M.I.A. ended up being the unsatisfying dessert to a meaty meal.

–Tanya Remekie

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  1. Crying Like a B



  2. david

    m.i.a. sucked. mad ppl left before the rain hit….hell, i was on the boat back to manhattan after the 3rd “song”. at least the rest of the show was nice and the dj was cool


  3. don't know

    if that would have been me at the concert and she would have threw that stuff on me i would have would have jumped on stage and beatthe ugly out of her


  4. Jaelani

    She usually brings it! That’s so embarrassing :(


  5. amanda

    I was at the show and i’m a HUGE M.I.A. fan and I was extremely upset and disappointed. I still love her music but I will never pay to see her live again.


  6. Ankka

    she only performed 4 songs??? WTF??


  7. CIARA'S #1 "RIDE" BITCHES!!!!!

    Yeah her show was extremely short!! Although I enjoyed myself especially when the rain came!!! I wanted SO MUCH MORE!!! she had so many that she didn’t do! I know the rain caused the show to stop…..but jeez I wanted more…I STILL LOVE HER THO!!! & would see her again…hopefully in a better setting because it was too HOT!! people were cool tho!! My friend & I were gonna fight a few times but it wardroom FUN!! I really enjoyed Rye Rye’s set!! She kept the crowd PUMPING!!!…she should went right before M.I.A!!


  8. Fubp

    MIA was terrible. Sloppy performance and too much reverb on everything. People were leaving in droves before she finished the first song. I love MIA but this show was so disappointing.
    Benga & Skream were awesome, and I loved Rye Rye. I didn’t see any fights. Everyone was enjoying themselves despite the nasty attitudes of the security douches.


  9. M J

    wow that’s badd :( and i like her music. from hearin about what i missed, hopefully the next time she performs will be better than this


  10. Disappointed Fan

    I’m a hard core MIA fan that’s been listening to her music since 2005. I was there on Saturday night and I actually found myself booing her at the concert! She was terrible.

    Besides complaining about the bass for 10 minutes and throwing her non working mic, she wasted about half an hour saying “i dunt have a set list…” over and over. Then she asked the crowd what they wanted to hear and when she decided she’d go with “Born Free” which one person in the crowd shouted, she turned behind her and said “wait… we dont have that” Then proceeded to singing a “Boyz/World Town mix” instead…??? She looked like an amateur on stage that night who had no idea what she was doing.

    When she first came out people were pushing to get closer to the stage but by the time 1am had rolled around and MIA had only gotten to her 3rd song w/random breaks of looped beats in between, groups of fans decided to leave… thank god for the rain which help end the torture for all the fans. This was a completely different artist than the one i saw at McCarren Park 3yrs ago. That concert was a unique, interactive and engaging experience. Lets hope all the fame and money hasn’t gone to her head but i’m afraid after listening to her new album that it has.


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  12. ricerice

    When I got into the festival at around 6:30 I told my friends that it would be amazing if the skies opened up at the end of the night in a huge storm, it was just in the air. THANK GOD IT CAME because it was the only great thing about MIA’s set. The lightening was the best visual effect of the evening and the rain was amazing. I was super excited to see MIA since i was supposed to see her in LA before that show got cancelled. When i got my refund i knew i still wanted to see her and figured she would be really hard hitting after getting cancelled in LA. Nope not at all, she had little to no energy and she seemed not to give a shit that everyone had been waiting all day for HER. But I’m super stoked I went because I caught all of RYERYE, Skream and Benga, Sleigh Bells, and DIE ANTWOOOOOOOORD!!!!!!!! – basically they ALL upstaged her ESPECIALLY DIE ANTWOORD. I felt the beats of SKREAM and Benga well into the morning. HARD was great, MIA SUCKED


  13. Wallabee Champ

    I was standing near the back of the crowd during the MIA set and watched droves of people leave during her first song. The people kept leaving, too. I think if it wasn’t for the rain, she would have ended up playing for maybe 5 people.


  14. trey-k

    M.I.A has alway’s been about hype & controversy with what she say’s. The beat’s behind her in the past have saved her & hidden the fact that she has NO talent.
    she’s just a loud noise with no real artistic substance.
    I wldn’t waste my wage’s seeing her live…..infact, I would demand that she pay me!!


  15. the buono

    Hip hop is dead. I actually saw a rapper that night just play over half of a lamb of god song with singing and everything while he just danced around the stage. Fuckin rediculous!!! Also, hipster crap sleigh bells tried real hard with their metal intro but just bored the shit out of me, skream sucked shit ni can’t even begin to explain that shut, yo yo fuck it, submarine low!! That’s all I remember of that crap. Die Antwoord did not disappoint, the only actually professional act there, otherwise it was amatuer hour at the appollo.


  16. the buono

    Die Antwoord was the only professional act there, everything else was amateur night. What’s up with sleigh bells and the metal intro? That’s the best thing about their lame set.


  17. yessss

    THE BUoNO hit it on the head…. AGREE with everything


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