This might have been my 2nd or 3rd time documenting an M.I.A. show. My friend Jose induced her music to me many years ago while we would cruise with the sunroof open with the music blasting from his speakers. The gay club we would frequent would go wild when the her songs came up. I’ve been fond of Paper Planes and Galang since then.
A few months ago I went to photograph her show at the Belasco Theatre, which was part of her album release Matangi. Now, I went to the Shrine auditorium not sure of my expectations since it was a bigger spot and an 18+ show. When arriving the spot was packed with fresh blood eager to see MIA. Young rapper Angel Haze opened the show filled with energy yet with an awkward stage presence between jumping on speakers and staying on side of the stage. The sound was not the best and with no further back up, understanding her lyrics was a bit confusing but nonetheless she did her best to deliver.
Mathangi “Maya” Arulpragasam better known as MIA took over the stage, the same stage set up as her previous show at the Belasco and with less quality of light. However MIA doesn’t need all this flare, her dancers, a dj and her confidence holding the mic are a show of their own. There was no Versace outfits this time and I greatly missed seeing live drummer Kiran Gandhi as part of her entourage, but these details were easy to overlook when she started singing no other than, Paper Planes. The producer, singer, activist and more went through old and new tracks hitting the dancing nerves of the crowd. As it is typical of her, she brought a crowd to dance on stage and from what I heard, Katy Perry was also up there. Her performance was great as always. That is the one thing I had certainty of.
For even more photos please visit FARAHSTOP, the music photography archive.