[Contributor Ali MacLean was not missing in action during this set:]
A month and a half after giving birth, and two months after pogoing on the Grammys stage practically in labor, M.I.A. was back to delight the Coachella crowds. Though she has a strong message for her disciples: “Just because I’ve been to the Grammys doesn’t mean I’ve sold out. We’re gonna take you to the jungle.”
And she did, military junta style. Wailing sirens, air horns, samples of crying babies and sounds of gunshots rang out through the sky. It was wartime chaos set in Serato stone. Between the screaming baby and the bright lights and drunken crowds, it at times seemed like a New Years Eve babysitting gig gone awry.
Wearing a military hat and sash, trimmed in neon piping and standing behind a press conference podium, M.I.A. delivered her rap/sermon as choreographed dancers did a combo of Stomp, grime, and African dance. Swirling around her, their neon trimmed wayfarers, jeans and hoodies lit up the stage like an American Apparel swathed Tron. As she allowed the crowd in front to jump on stage and join her for a slutty world beat dance. It was a freak free for all, a “We Are The World” for the unwashed patchouli masses.
Taking a dig at Amy Winehouse, whom she replaced on the bill, Maya sang out “They tried to make me do the Oscars, but I said NO, NO, NO!”” M.I.A.’s patter stuck close to her humble Sri Lankan roots, but as a Grammy- and Oscar-nominated artist who is now part of the Seagram’s family fortune, how long will she stay connected to those streets and how long will the audience buy it?
Essentially it doesn’t matter. As the beginning of “Paper Planes” rang out, the crowd roared in approval. M.I.A.’s mainstream success is already cemented, thanks to Seth Rogen.