It was 6:30 pm when my brother and I arrived at the Echostage on the outskirts of Washington D.C. We jumped into the short line and the waiting began as all the hipsters of different colors, shapes, and sizes started to the file in line behind us. I had ‘Galang’ off M.I.A’s first album, Arular, stuck in my head but I was not ready for what I was about to experience in that room full of hundreds of people, all there for the same reason I was. When the doors opened about an hour later at 7:30, everyone got their tickets out and we all made our way into the Echostage.
In usual concert fashion, the smell of weed wafted over the audience as the DJ finished up his set and the lights went dim. A$AP Ferg came out onto the stage looking like Prince to an eruption of applause and excitement with a couple lesser known members of the A$AP Crew accompanying him. Fergenstein played a lot of songs off his debut album Trap Lord, such as “Lord”, “Dump Dump”, “Let it Go”, “Work”, and of course “Shabba”. The thing I realized about Ferg’s music is that it’s not meant to be listened to on an iPod while studying for a Calculus final. It’s music to be performed and enjoyed live, with a thousand screaming and dancing fans around you. The beats are loud and energetic and the lyrics are catchy and demand the audience to scream them back at the stage emphatically. He did perform a new song that had everyone yelling “I Got Hoes” for a like 2 minutes so I am pretty excited for that gem to drop. One gripe I had, not at the time but in retrospect, is that he played a couple of other people’s songs (“Wild for the Night” by A$AP Rocky and “Man of the Year” by Schoolboy Q) which was great because it got the crowd hype but a bit unconventional.
Fergie has a great stage presence; he gets everyone involved and I doubt there was a bored face in the audience when he was jumping around on stage. I can honestly say that I have a new respect for him after seeing him perform live. I was not a fan before the show and had even thought him downright annoying. But after the show, I would definitely see him live again. After the Trap Lord left us with that outstanding performance, we all waited for who we were truly there for.
A fold out table and a dingy looking computer chair appeared in the middle of the stage as the lights once again fell. M.I.A walked out to a roar of cheers and sat down at the table and “Bucky Done Gun” started playing, signalling that the show had officially begun. Man, M.I.A has some ridiculous energy when she performs, and I have to say I was entranced watching her dance on stage, completely controlling the crowd. She had a couple dancers on stage that pretty much breakdanced throughout the concert which was pretty cool to watch in front of the amazing light show that accompanied each song. The setlist, it seems, was put together so well that each and every song kept the energy high without a low point in the night. She played a good mix of songs from all of her albums that had everyone chanting along with her with some of the highlights being “YALA”, “World Town”, “Bamboo Banga”, and ending it perfectly with “Paper Planes” and “Bad Girls”.
During a couple times in the night she climbed onto the barrier between the stage and the floor which caused a wave of people pushing their way through to try and get a glimpse of her up close. I cannot even count how many times I heard “YASS MIA” throughout the crowd during her performance, but I will say that this crowd was one of the best I have ever been a part of. The obnoxious pill poppers pushing and dancing people out of their way, with no regards to a skinny brown boy trying to watch the woman he hopes to one day marry perform his favorite songs, was annoying, but I’m not one to kill anyone’s vibe. Besides a few annoying people in the crowd the only real gripe I had was that the show was too short. I think Ferg performed for about 30 minutes and M.I.A was on stage for maybe 45-50 minutes. She definitely put on a great show and had a good selection of songs but damn girl I know you got at least 15 more minutes in you.
If you’re a fan I highly recommend seeing M.I.A at least once if she’s in town and you and a group of friends want to dance around for a bit. It was a fun show and I’m glad I went but I don’t think I would go again; I got my fix but I think I would probably see an A$AP show again before dropping some mula to see Matangi whenever she comes around again.