Low vs. Diamond, Mates of State and Santogold: Liberty Hall in Lawrence, Kansas

I’ve waited endlessly for it to happen; the sifting of the music genres through each respective time period, past the bands influenced by the 70s and 80s, kicking the door wide open for drop D tuning and other signature sounds of the 90s. Honestly, I have never really gotten a clearer glimpse of this in a music venue, as I did this night listening to Low vs. Diamond piece through their set, which anyone outside on the street could have easily mistaken for Our Lady Peace.

Though poor sound qualitydue to an apathetic sound guy, not the band, seemed to hinder the quality of the band’s set, I was rather impressed by the hooks that managed to find their way out of the cloud of useless fuzz and bass distortion. The piano seemed to be the only instrument to really stand out and rising above a crowd who honestly couldn’t give a damn about this band’s opening set. This apathy seemed to carry over to the band as well. Their songs, seemingly angry and pointed, simply didn’t fluently display in the boys’ actions, who only seemed to half-heartedly want to be on stage.

Sadly, on this night, the energy of their album didn’t seem to make the trip to the stage. To be fair however, a number of the difficulties they had to overcome were placed in front of them by circumstances slightly out of their control. I honestly look forward to giving them another chance on another night.

Mates of State, the evening’s middle set, are no stranger to Lawrence, Kansas. Kori Gardner, lead vocalist of the group recalled to the crowd, “In case you didn’t know, this is where this band started. We went to school here, and we started the band here. It’s damn good to be back.”

And it was damn good to have them back. This husband and wife duo, packing great blended vocal patterns, progressive moog progressions and percussion big enough to fill the room, were at their best. Shooting smirks and flirtatious eye contact across the stage at one another, performing more of a love story than anything else.

Santogold, however, was something completely different, leaving the Lawrence hipsters slightly unsure of what the hell they were doing there. Though being compared to M.I.A. every time she turns around, Santogold actually brings a completely different, unique feel to her hip hop show. Joined on stage by a pair of matching dancers and a DJ, the four lit up the Liberty Hall stage, reflecting light from their gold jackets (or tights in Santogold’s case) and sporting 1980’s style fashion.

Unlike M.I.A., who played the same stage earlier that year, this show felt much more lighthearted, but just as dance friendly. Opening with “You’ll Find a Way,” a song that reminds me more of The Clash than NWA, Santogold stands tall in her punk rock roots as well as her hip hop desires.

My only complaint about her set falls with Santogold’s inability to include her audience in her art. Her relatively short set, consisting of about 40 minutes, was primarily used ignoring the half filled room. I’d go so far as to mention the lack of common hip hop show call-outs, like having the crowd lift their hands, or even make noise. It seemed that she was simply content to get through her set and go home.

But, then again, with sound problems muffling her voice, and the bass kicking me in the teeth, I must confess, I, too, wanted the same.

Low Vs. Diamond: website | myspace | Low vs. Diamond review | Interview
Mates of State: website | myspace | Re-Arrange Us review
Santogold: website | myspace

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Mama M.I.A.

The speculation that M.I.A. canceled her summer tour due to conceiving a child with fiance Benjamin Brewer is true. Friday night, the mom-to-be was at the Diesel concert at Pier 3 in Brooklyn.

Check out that bump!

M.I.A.: website | myspace | live review

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Source: Gawker via Brooklyn Vegan

M.I.A. – Liberty Hall, Lawrence Ks.

Lawrence, Ks is known as a college town to some. KU’s recent national [college basketball] victory gave the nation a heads up on this so-called “small town.” It is, however, well known to be the home of legendary Hip-Hop shows for myself and many others. Shows I’ve attended that I constantly tell people about include such acts as Alias, Dose One, El-P, O.D.B.,Goodie M.O.B. ’94, the Roots ’94, the Fugees ’94, and KRS-1.

Last night it was M.I.A.

Last night was, shall I say, Fresh!

First off, let me say that this lady definitely knows how to rock a show.

All the kids at the show came out in full 80’s style. I really wish I’d had a photo pass, but cameras were not allowed even though these outfits were. It was a crowd without care as to who played spectator and these kids wore outfits to make sure that people were looking. The show jumped off with an 80’s DJ, The Egyptian Lover. He came complete with a Roland_TR-808 — he was not messin’ around and the vibe he was putting off was perfect for this crowd. He played the 808/electronica wave beats and did a little 80’s style HipHop. For a second, I felt like I was stuck in Krush Groove (c’mon people).

I need to say that the lack of B-Boys/Girls [Ed. Note: a.k.a. break dancers] was a whack factor. It was the first show, for me, in Lawrence, Ks without witnessing the craft.

The second DJ was from Philly and rocked the tables with Neo-Hip Up Tempo/Electro/Hip Hop. He played everything. By the time he finished his set it was about 11:00 pm, and promised to return with M.I.A. Previously, she’d only appeared once for a mic check.

As the house music played, the crowd shouted and chanted “M-I-A!” off and on. The place was hot, and people were getting obviously anxious. Finally, a video started that was obviously propaganda stolen from an Asian political channel. In the video, the message given is that of destroying the Government that exists and replacing it with a Government for the people. Soon after, lights started flashing and the sound of a horn blew. A short toot, toot and then a long toooooooot!

The crowd went nuts. The show was sold out and the place was packed. I had to find a new seat at least 4 different times because the place filled up, but the spot I had was completely perfect for watching M.I.A. and her crew in action.

M.I.A. came out strong and confident. She mos def knew that the crowd was ready for her. Her transitions between songs stayed seamless and kept the party going. As I sat there listening, I wondered how many people really knew what she stands for.

The show remained a party with a fun, love, and revolutionary vibe. M.I.A. asked the ladies to come on the stage. As the mad rush began, I decided to head down to the front myself, both hoping and knowing that the fellas would soon get a chance to be on the stage with a legend. As the song was playing, I made my was downstairs and to the front. When it ended, Maya asked the ladies to help the dudes on stage.

A large dude with braids offered me a boost in return for my spot. I was then standing less than 5 feet away from M.I.A. I must admit that I was somewhat star struck and made at least 2 1/2 attempts to call her name and get her attention. This was all at the same time that “security” was trying to keep the fans away from Maya. She, however, was focused on the gadget on the table before her, that was obviously controlling her music.

As the dancing continued, her merch guy and another one of her crew danced next to me. We collided and helped each other up, laughing. The song ended and the crowd roared, I busted shots and yelled, ‘blow, blow, blow!’ I turned and looked at Maya and she smiled. It was dope!

As she began another song started, the dancing continued butI decided to leave the stage. As I made my way to the back to the balcony, I wished I had stayed on stage as M.I.A. was winding down and asking everyone to exit the stage. The stage was clear and another one of M.I.A.’s popular song began. The energy was still high, and people wanted more. And Maya gave the people what they wanted, yet aside from the video at the beginning of the show, I do admit I missed the political aspect of her tunes, in her show. The show itself was also lacking a little something that I just can’t figure out. Still, it was a dope show.

Soon the show was over and the ‘good nights’ were said. However, with the lights off and the auditorium packed, chants of “M-I-A!” began again, died down, and began again at least 6 to 8 times. Finally, after what seemed like forever, Maya came out and did her most recent popular song “Paper Planes.” The crowd again went beserk. I’m pretty sure that everyone in that place was moving. M.I.A. is definitely loved.

After the show, people were hanging around, hoping for a glimpse of their idol, but nothing. Some of M.I.A.’s merch people and art directors came out and hung, which was dope, and even bought me a drink. We made some comparisons to New Orleans and Lawrence, among other wild comments that were off the chain. There was an after party spot, but there were a couple of females that convinced the crew to head to a popular bar known as the Replay Lounge, where we ended up. But that’s for another post, or private messages, so get at me.

The show was really fun. If you missed it, you missed out!


M.I.A.: website | myspace