Posted in hiphop | music | pictures | venues on May 10, 2014

photos by Gretchen Robinette, words by Sean O'Connell

MIA
ASAP Ferg

When M.I.A. and A$AP Ferg came to raise hell with their middle fingers raised at the new Knockdown Center in Queens, it was an exercise in liberation. And an exercise it certainly was.

The venue operators, possibly trying to prove their ability to control crowds to the State Liquor Authority that denied their liquor license a few days ago, had the venue littered with security guards that denied entrance to anyone with a backpack and performed pat downs that some concertgoers thought erred on the side of intrusive. Nonetheless, droves of fans squeaked through security and poured into the surprisingly massive venue, anxious to see how the night would go. The venue had a distinct smell that transcended the sweat that would be spilled to the gyrations of rebellious beats bumping out of the PA system. The layers of the weary, snow-laden winter were shed as clammy revelers grooved to a DJ set that sounded great in a space as big as the Knockdown Center. The amount of space does wonders for the acoustics, allowing all of the performances to sound as they were intended instead of washed out or bass heavy.

By the time A$AP Ferg took the stage, the crowd was well stretched and in good spirits, if not a little sweaty. Ferg, and his hype man and "newest A$AP Mob member Marty Baller", took no time to reach level 11, banging out one trap anthem after another. He commanded a strong stage presence, and had an unshakeable confidence evident in his early proclamation: "I'm famous now". When he wasn't beckoning the crowd to turn up, he was spraying them with bottles of water and pouring what appeared to be champagne in the mouths of a lucky few in the front row. Later on, Ferg brought a woman onto the stage to freestyle for a nonexistent chance to become a member of A$AP Mob. At one point, Ferg and Marty even tried to make a wall-of-death mosh with Marty in the middle. While the crowd wasn't exactly feeling the heavy metal ritual, Ferg certainly had their attention. The hit "Shabba" had the entire room bouncing, as the signature drum kick of the anthem pounded holes in their chests.

With the lights back on, attention was drawn upstairs where police officers had made a guest appearance, while security in the front shined flashlights into the crowd. It was never made apparent what they were searching for, but the irony fell somewhere between eerie and hilarious when the lights went down again and the intro to M.I.A's set included the sounds and search lights of police helicopters. When M.I.A. took the stage, the crowd erupted and a push to the front sent some of the people still reeling from Ferg's set seeking cover in the back. It was hard to pin down the demographic there to see Maya; the crowd was extremely diverse, a good sign at a new venue in the most diverse borough, or place in the world for that matter. For the first few minutes of her set, M.I.A. was almost completely unintelligible, seemingly whispering into her mic. Once she removed her sunglasses to a hearty cheer from the crowd, however, M.I.A. owned the stage. Songs from her latest album "Matangi" sounded the best over the PA, and went over the best with the dance-philic crowd. Where she might have lacked in strength of vocal delivery, M.I.A. was aided by a well mixed set that included instrumental interludes that kept the crowd dancing, tireless dancers that livened the atmosphere, as well as the myriad of middle fingers she tossed, saving none after her incident at the Super Bowl led to her being sued by the NFL for $16 million. The versatile stage design that she has been using on the tour adds depth to the overall experience with a dazzling display of lights and an ornate centerpiece donned with symbols. The highlight of her set came when she invited all women onto the stage to dance with her to frenetic "Y.A.L.A." and again for "Bad Girls" keeping with the carefree, party atmosphere that the crowd seemed to appreciate. High fives were abound as the crowd cleared out, and still others sought to keep the party rocking with a DJ spinning towards the exits.

Two M.I.A. shows were originally scheduled to take place at the Knockdown Center, but Thursday's was cancelled. M.I.A. does play another NYC show tonight with Solange at Webster Hall though. More pictures from Friday night's show (5/9), M.I.A.'s setlist included, below...

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Comments (27)

this oconnell kid has a great future in writing press releases with gems like "the most diverse borough in the world!" and "a wondrous space for acoustics!"

Posted by Anonymous | May 10, 2014 11:34 AM

I was there, and got drunk, as fuck with the alcohol ,strapped to my balls, i snuck in and, the molly ,I passed around. Great ,show.

Posted by Anonymous | May 10, 2014 11:43 AM

Nevertheless not a bad write up at all, hire this man!

Btw her webster hall show is tonight, not on sunday.

Posted by ME | May 10, 2014 12:10 PM

Glad to hear her ticket sales were soft and one show got cancelled. She's a fucking hack and an asshole and deserves every bad thing she has coming to her from now on.

Posted by Anonymous | May 10, 2014 12:18 PM

show was fun, security was fucked up

Posted by Anonymous | May 10, 2014 12:50 PM

Truffles 4 Life

Posted by Anonymous | May 10, 2014 1:46 PM

inviting audience on stage = shit show

Posted by Anonymous | May 10, 2014 1:57 PM

It was a sick show...good review

Posted by Anonymous | May 10, 2014 2:15 PM

revoke that paki terrorist's visa

Posted by Anonymous | May 10, 2014 2:23 PM

Knockdown has a lot of potential. MIA was a lot of fun!

Posted by Anonymous | May 10, 2014 2:36 PM

It was a sick show...good review...I'm 16

Posted by Anonymous | May 10, 2014 2:59 PM

2:59 wtf?

Posted by Anonymous | May 10, 2014 3:01 PM

this is how to write a review. Send this person to more shows please.

Posted by Gretchen's mom | May 10, 2014 5:19 PM

"High fives were abound as the crowd cleared out, and still others sought to keep the party rocking with a DJ spinning towards the exits."

Wtf is this ?!

Posted by Anonymous | May 10, 2014 6:36 PM

I was there and high fives were DEFINITELY abound.

Posted by Anonymous | May 10, 2014 7:35 PM

MIA may be a not so nice person and a fairly untalented rapper, but by the twins of KBK she is pretty dang hot son!

Posted by Anonymous | May 10, 2014 8:14 PM

ignorant millennials reaching out to her look like brown shirts. let's go retro and allow fans to bum-rush the barricades before concerts; more tramplings that way.

Posted by Anonymous | May 11, 2014 8:47 AM

How could anyone listen to this shit and not be drunk?

Posted by Anonymous | May 11, 2014 8:53 AM

Once this enemy combatant's subliminal messages are understood, it will be too late; wwIII will already have begun and ended. #cash4oil

Posted by Anonymous | May 11, 2014 8:57 AM

Yea, still others sought to keep the party rocking, thanks!

Posted by massagem tantrica | May 11, 2014 10:09 AM

Oh man this writer sounds like such an idiot. Is this his first time writing about music?

Posted by Anonymous | May 11, 2014 7:27 PM

Serious question -- were the fries white truffle or black?

Posted by Anonymous | May 11, 2014 8:01 PM

It's great fun to see all these Internet tough guys get riled up over a female artist who they believe is the enemy within. You sound like Archie Bunker without the self-awareness.

Posted by Anonymous | May 12, 2014 9:28 AM

this writing made me cringe. is it possible the only BV staff person willing to go to the show was an intern?

Posted by Anonymous | May 12, 2014 10:45 AM

writing here is ass. better writers plz thx.

Posted by Anonymous | May 13, 2014 2:41 PM

10:45 : sadly, yes, that is likely the case. mia's spine is gonna be fucked up when she old(er). shame she gotta walk bow legged too.

Posted by Anonymous | May 16, 2014 8:43 AM

The comment sections on this site are filled with a bunch of fucking cocksucking retards. M.I.A. is an amazing artist.

Posted by Jack | May 18, 2014 12:12 PM

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