Born Free

M.I.A. was an amazing way to end November.

Since the concert was on a Tuesday night, they actually started on time… the Viennese are surprisingly prompt with things like concerts. I’m used to having a couple hours’ leeway for these things, but nope, when we got to Gasometer at 8:30, the opening band had already played and left… so no Sleigh Bells for us. I’ve been listening to their album a bit, though, and they’re fun in a kind of gritty way. They probably would have been a good complement to M.I.A.’s sound.

Mink and I had just enough time to go through coat check and get a beer before making our way to the front of the crowd. That’s one thing I love about going to concerts here — people might give you a dirty look as you’re squeezing past them, but they don’t physically assault you for trying to get closer to the front (ahem, Montreal). I can live with dirty looks from strangers if the result is a front row spot, pressed right up against the fence.

A chick DJ with a sweet side ponytail came on first, and a thick fog swept over us along with her intro beats to set the mood for about 10 minutes. And then a tiny woman wearing gold sparkly leggings, a giant jacket and a sort of Middle Eastern head covering bounded onto the stage … M.I.A. is simultaneously fierce and adorable. She had two male dancers alongside her for much of the concert, and the ginger kid looked strangely familiar.

Yep, he’s the guy from the controversial “Born Free” video about the genocide of ginger kids and, as it turns out, he’s got sweet dance moves. He looked just as badass onstage as in the video, although he was unfortunately not wearing the same tracksuit:

This ginger guy was dancing on our side of the stage, and when M.I.A. yelled out that she wanted people dancing on stage with her for “Boyz,” I shoved Mink over the fence and he grabbed her to go up on stage. That’s right — Mink actually got to dance on stage with M.I.A. and about 50 others from the crowd! This video has terrible sound quality, but it shows everyone on stage dancing with her, including the ginger and the other dancer guy:

Mink got back to our spot relatively quickly after everyone was kicked off stage, and she kept yelling, “I breathed the same air as M.I.A!” Epic.

The setlist itself was awesome, if a little brief. M.I.A. has three solid albums though, so I guess it’d be impossible for her to play all of her best songs. She unfortunately didn’t play “XXXO,” which is our favourite on her new album. But overall, it was a decent mix of Arular, Kala, and /\/\/\Y/\:

The Message
World Town
Bucky Done Gun
Bamboo Banga
Story to be Told

Born Free
Steppin’ Up
Paper Planes

The highlight of the concert, for me, was when M.I.A. sang part of “Dollar” — it contains the chorus from the Pixies’ “Where is My Mind,” one of the best songs ever, and her take on it is phenomenal. She sat up on the giant speaker in the middle of the stage and just belted it out. The encore was also amazing, since she killed “Born Free” during 3 minutes of crazy seizure strobe lights and for “Paper Planes” everyone on stage made paper planes out of the set lists and launched them into the crowd. No luck for getting a setlist this time, but we got so many amazing pictures from our vantage point — and Mink got to dance with her! — that it wasn’t a huge loss.

I’ll post some photos Mink took of the awesomeness whenever she gets around to uploading them…

So, now it’s December, it’s been snowing pretty much non-stop this week, and the concert-going must come to an end (if I want to be able to eat in the new year. Right). And now what the hell am I going to write about?


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