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Difficult NYC: The Report from Governor's Island

Monday, July 26, 2010

M.I.A. sings to the crowd at HardNYC's concert at Governor's Island M.I.A. sings to the crowd at HardNYC's concert at Governor's Island (Alex Chickosky)

On a searing hot day, a boatload of revelers dressed in warmed-over early 90's fashion went to an island to hear some music. 

It didn't go well.

As the crowd swelled and the temperature spiked, performances from Scream & Benga, Sleighbells and Die Antwoord created a multi-culty hip-hop hybrid feel that worked for the M.I.A. set. As the sun went down and the crowd awaited their headliner, there was a lot of checking in from the stage ('What's up New Yooooooork?!') and proclaimations of general excellence (Die Antwoord firmly believes that there is a "next level." And they are it).

At about midnight, when M.I.A. finally took the stage, the crowd caught the kind of second wind generated by a perfect storm of dehydration and expectation. 

Fifteen minutes into her set, the show hit its first snag.  Plagued with sound troubles, M.I.A. flung her cordless microphone into the crowd and the first flashes of irritation started to show.  The crowd shifted its collective weight and waited for their $45 dollars worth as onstage M.I.A. and her performers sweated on.  The entire posse in their splotchy, mustard-colored garb made performing look difficult.  Fifteen minutes later -- hail, then rain, then a torrential downpour.  A mass exodus ensued.  Ciao M.I.A. 

With crowd control by concert staff, thousands of wet, frustrated concertgoers were left to contemplate the show for hours in a muddy crawl to the ferry.  The rain stopped and it was back to being hot and close, only this time the crowd was silent. A few iPhone cameras poked their way above the crowd as they had in front of the stage, this time to try and figure out the location of the illusive ferry.  If there was a game M.I.A. lost it, and she took everybody's $45 with her.  

From the ferry, the whole day looked promising.
Julia Furlan

From the ferry, the whole day looked promising.

Julia Furlan

Two major themes had begun to develop before the sun had even gone down: throwback fashion and shoulder-to-shoulder lines.

Fortunately, the musicans could bring their musical instruments.  Points for correctly spelling
Julia Furlan

Fortunately, the musicans could bring their musical instruments.  Points for correctly spelling "paraphernalia".

A group of revelers share their love of pony beads and ice.  It was 102 degrees.
Julia Furlan

A group of revelers share their love of pony beads and ice on a day that reached 102 degrees. (Clockwise from left) Danny Fatz, Daniel Stravedes, Arielle Agius, Andrew Kramer, Dan Maneksha and Anthony Constantino

Anthony Constantino said his bracelets didn't slow him down.
Julia Furlan

Anthony Constantino said his bracelets didn't slow him down.

The crowd was packed and sweaty during Scream & Benga's set after the sun went down.
Julia Furlan

The crowd was packed and sweaty during Scream & Benga's set after the sun went down.

Eugenio Shaggy Bush rocked out to Scream & Benga's set.
Julia Furlan

Eugenio Shaggy Bush rocked out to Scream & Benga's set. Flair for costumes seemed to be part of the aesthetic, with sailor hats, The Cat in the Hat hats, and...

The occasional raccoon tail.
Julia Furlan

The occasional raccoon tail.

In a frenzy of black-and-white psychedelia and gold lamé pants, the South African hip-hop group Die Antwoord riled up the crowd for M.I.A.
Julia Furlan

In a frenzy of black-and-white psychedelia and gold lamé pants, the South African hip-hop group Die Antwoord riled up the crowd for M.I.A.

The crowd greeted its queen with hands, iphones and cameras in the air as M.I.A. took the stage.
Lyndsey Purchon

The crowd greeted its queen with hands, iphones and cameras in the air as M.I.A. took the stage. 

Even after a long, sweaty day of music, excitement was still high through M.I.A.'s set.
Alex Chickosky

Even after a long, sweaty day of music, excitement was still high through M.I.A.'s set.

Plagued by sound trouble, M.I.A. threw her microphone into the audience.  With a newly functioning mic in hand, M.I.A. had a sip of water before a torrential downpour ended her set early.
Alex Chickosky

Plagued by sound trouble, M.I.A. threw her microphone into the audience.  With a newly functioning mic in hand, M.I.A. had a sip of water before a torrential downpour ended her set early.

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