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Live review: M.I.A. at Lot 613

August 27, 2009 | 11:43 am

Mia1

There was a guy wandering around M.I.A.’s last-minute “secret” show (presented by her new label N.E.E.T.) last night wearing a T-shirt emblazoned “I (heart) M.I.A.” without a shred of irony. While the cool kids might have snickered when he passed by, it was an apt and appropriate sentiment.

There are precious few artists who can galvanize such a significant portion of L.A.’s hipster elite (on a “school night,” no less) to trek deep into downtown Los Angeles at $25 a pop. But there they were, cooling their heels in line for an extra hour when doors didn’t open until 10 p.m. instead of the advertised 9 p.m. And then there was another wait.

No disrespect to the cavalcade of DJs and emcees that tried to keep the crowd’s attention, but it was akin to adults talking in an old “Peanuts” cartoon. People did not get all gussied up on a Wednesday night to hear DJ Mano play pumped-up mixes of Gen Y classics like Bell Biv Devoe’s “Poison.” Hollywood Holt made an admirable attempt at hyping the crowd, but chants for M.I.A. only increased.

When M.I.A. did finally mount the stage a few minutes after 1 a.m. (and not a moment too soon — even hardcore fans were on the verge of mutiny), there was the expected pandemonium, the horizon turning into a forest of hands, cameras and cellphones. Rushing through songs like “XR2” and “Bamboo Banga,” from her 2007 album “Kala,” and rocking her new favorite accessory -- a huge ‘80s mobile phone -- M.I.A. introduced a dancer called “White Boy” to bust some moves for the crowd.

By the time she wrapped it up with the obligatory run through “Paper Planes” (which she kept referring to as “Where’s My Money?”), barely half an hour had passed.

While some grumbled about the late hour and the brief set, there’s something to be said for still being able to see M.I.A. up close and personal in a Los Angeles warehouse. Her next two California shows are at the massive Street Scene in San Diego, and the equally large Outside Lands in San Francisco this coming weekend.

-- Photo and post by Scott T. Sterling

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