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Pop Music Review

M.I.A.: late and brief, but up close

August 28, 2009|Scott T. Sterling

M.I.A. is one of precious few artists who can galvanize L.A.'s hipster elite to trek deep into downtown Los Angeles at $25 a pop. Still, there they were Wednesday in front of Lot 613, cooling their heels in line for the performer's last-minute "secret" show, which was presented by her new label N.E.E.T.

One guy even wore his "I (heart) M.I.A." T-shirt without a shred of irony.

But the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival veteran made her public wait. Doors opened an hour later than had been advertised, and several DJs and emcees were sent in to warm up the crowd for the evening's star.

No disrespect, but 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."

When M.I.A. finally took the stage after 1 a.m., she rushed through songs like "XR2" and "Bamboo Banga," from her 2007 album "Kala," rocking her new favorite accessory, a huge '80s-era mobile phone.

By the time she concluded with the obligatory run through her hit single "Paper Planes" (which she kept referring to as "Where's My Money?"), barely 30 minutes had passed.

While some grumbled about the late hour and the brevity of the set, there's something to be said for seeing M.I.A. in a Los Angeles warehouse. Her next California shows are at the Street Scene in San Diego and Outside Lands in San Francisco this coming weekend.

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scott.sterling@latimes.com

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