So on Friday June 13th, Mathangi “Maya” Arulpragasam, aka M.I.A., performed at the Bonnaroo Music Festival
in Manchester, Tennesee. All I have to say is HOLY FUCK. Her set was probably the most intense, high energy performance at Bonnaroo. I know this because I was lucky enough to witness it first hand and up close.
After an amazing set by !!! (chk chk chk), M.I.A. was scheduled to perform. !!! had set the bar quite high, and it was questionable whether or not M.I.A. could top it. There was even speculation that M.I.A. would literally be missing in action - nobody was even sure if she would show up for her Bonnaroo performance. This was because the Sri Lankan MC canceled her European tour, citing exhaustion as the main reason.
Right around 6:15 PM CST though, the heavy bass of “Bamboo Banga” could be heard emanating from the DJ booth. At this time, everyone knew that M.I.A. was ready to deliver the performance of a lifetime. She came out donning white sequined short shorts, a large orange t-shirt, wayfarer sunglasses, and big 80’s hair and earrings. M.I.A. kept telling the sound technicians to turn up her bass in order to blow everyone away. She and her 2 dancers passed out horns to the audience. Then, in somewhat of a surprise move (I say ‘somewhat of a surprise’ because !!!’s singer had hinted to it an hour earlier), M.I.A. then told the crowd in her heavy British accent that,
“This is my last show, and I’m glad that I’m spending it with all my hippies! Peace and love! Aight! They’re kickin’ me out, but I’m goin’ in peace! I will be back though, they ain’t gettin’ rid of me that easily!”
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During her electric performance, M.I.A. blasted her horn, danced on top of the speakers, jumped into the front row, and even invited tons of people to dance on stage. Everyone on stage and in the audience was going absolutely crazy. The energy throughout the performance was through the roof.
As RollingStone put it,
“M.I.A. delivered a mind-blowing set of ass-shaking jungle-disco tonight”
Check out the videos. I apologize in advance for the shakiness.
Below: M.I.A. invites girls onto the stage and performs the end of “Jimmy” and the beginning of “Boyz.”
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Below: M.I.A. dances and grinds with the huge speakers on the left.
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Below: M.I.A. comes into the front row about 3 feet away from me. I am really upset over this because I thought I was recording the entire time, but I wasn’t, and the video ended up being 7 seconds, instead of 2 minutes. Noooooooooo!!
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Below: M.I.A. wraps up a song from behind turntables.
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Below: M.I.A. comes back for an encore with her crew. Nigeria’s own Afrikan Boy makes his first appearance of the night.
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Below: M.I.A. ends the show with “Paper Planes.”
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