Friday, May 23, 2008

M.I.A. and Hottub Slam the Beat Children of the United Nations

M.I.A. stopped off in San Francisco on May 21st, as part of her 2008 US tour, playing to a packed house at the Concourse at SF Design Center, a 3,500 person capacity venue that was sold out and brimming with enthusiastic fans. Opening for her were local hip-hop party animals Hottub, and M.I.A.’s dj, Hollertronix deck technician Low B.

Hottub, took the stage first, and knocked out a solid thirty minute set
of feel (really) good hip-hop party jams. 808 bass hits emanated from a stage occupied by the finessed (we might be missing an “a” but the girls get one for performance anyway) playing of the ladies, Co-Co, LoLi Pop, and A.M. breezy, backed by the live robo-funk beats of Jay-Sonic and Funky Finger Mark. This quintet have been slaying Bay Area party scenes for the last year and this show was a good indication of what they can do in front of a larger crowd: a lot one might wager.

Low B jumped on next to deliver a well mixed and scratched deluge of crunked, and blissfully mashed, party jams comprising – but not compromising -- the likes of Mims and Soulja Boy, poured and strained through high octane breaks, fuzzy electro on steroids and kicky house beats; all of which were perfect for the post rave come down, or was it the pre rave jump up? Who cares: it rocked, the kids ate it up and Low laid out the sonic red carpet for M.I.A. to glide in on, and command proceedings thereafter.

This she did in style, backed by Low B on the beats and scratch and accompanied by two dancers and a rather large visual screen which blurted out all manner of dayglo imagery, Nintendo graphics and politically charged video snippets as
M.I.A., replete in big shades and a platinum wig, took control of the party with tunes like her opening number, “Bamboo Banger.” This rocker from her 2007 long player, Kala, sent a ripple through the bang-up-for-it crowd and got the show off to a nice start.

Things only got better from there as she blazed through an hour longish set, punctuated with revelry rousers like “Pull Up The People,” “Galang,” and “Bucky Done Gone.” At one point of the show she invited a large group of ladies from the crowd up on the stage to gyrate en masse to a couple tunes, including the Bollywood and house inflected “Jimmy.” Shortly after this she invited a bunch of the lads up to get down to “Boyz”(what else?) and they stayed up there for “Bird Flu.”

At this point the entire venue was a mass of waving, air punching and flashing camera phones and this energy level persisted until M.I.A. left the stage only to return for a two song encore, the last tune being
the Clash, “Straight To Hell” sampling “Paper Planes.” Given the fresh-faced and lively nature of the crowd it’s obvious that M.I.A. has crossed over to the kids, and they love her, and she loved them back
with a killer show filled with excitement and youthful abandon. The people were most definitely pulled up.


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