Friday, Sept. 14, Zilker park

ACL Music Fest Live Shots
Photo by John Anderson


In the end, M.I.A. really did pull up the people. At her urging, half the crowd climbed onstage during "Birdflu," from her latest tribal scream Kala then, as a cosmic testament to her lyrics, was promptly told to get down by security. The Sri Lankan-born, South London-raised Maya Arulpragasam sounded disappointed, and the energy of her hourlong set flagged, but for the first 45 minutes, she held it down. Backed by a DJ and singer/dancer, set opener "Bamboo Banga" hit the road hard. As she chanted, "Yeah I'm knockin' on tha doors of ya Humma Humma," the irony was probably missed at such a fest, but she held the crowd's attention with her rapid-fire tongue and club freaky dance moves. "I got seven months left," she announced, dressed in a hot-pink two-piece and black wraparound sunglasses, a reference to being denied entry to the U.S. last year. That made Kala's flirty "Boyz" ("Where all the baby daddy at?" she asked) and gunshot-and-Clash-sampled "Paper Planes" hit that much harder (the women's bathrooms behind the stage were shaking). Arular's "Pull Up the People" sounded like democracy, but after the crowd dispersed onstage, closer "Galang" had things in a bit of a tizzy, her parting words prophetic: "This is the future."

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