M.I.A knows what it means to be a real bad girl.

Fully clothed, rocking a bucket hat, shades, black and gold patterned print outfit and an M.I.A belt, the British-Sri Lankan authentically original artist embodies the term rebel: jumping on bars, hanging from ceilings, performing in the sound-booth, cussing out the sound person, issuing a shot of tequila and giving a political-driven rant.

“Future Canadian generations! Don’t take the easy route and be Americans,” she warns the young crowd who had snagged wristbands to see the superstar perform.

The anticipated headlining performance begins as she jumps onto the colourfully lit Tattoo stage with incredible energy to perform hits such as “Bucky Done Gun”, “Sunshowers”, “World Town” and “Double Bubble Trouble”. Accompanied by backup dancers and a hype-woman dressed in white, she and her crew transform the stage into their own theme park, dancing and moving around with power and sass. She peers through her heart-shaped glasses, remaining engaged with the crowd the entire time, feeding off of its energy, forever searching for someone to sing along with, before sticking the mic in their excited faces.

When it comes time to perform the smash-hit “Paper Planes”, the stage is not enough for the thrilling performer who jumps from the bar, through the crowd and over to the sound booth, to stand on the railing and hold onto light fixtures, effortlessly.

The Canadian Music Week kick-off featuring the headlining world-class act, which was previously to be held at Yonge-Dundas Square, was moved over to Tattoo due to “unforeseen issues.” Four hundred lucky wristband holders, who braved the rain earlier in the week or took part in the concert lottery, were given the opportunity to take part in the free, exclusive event.

When it comes time to perform the smash-hit “Paper Planes”, the stage is not enough for the thrilling performer who jumps from the bar, through the crowd and over to the sound booth, to stand on the railing and hold onto light fixtures, effortlessly. The crowd surrounds her and sings along with gun fingers ablaze, gunshot and cash register noises erupting throughout the place.

But it is an organized chaos as the artist seems to know exactly what she is doing, prompting the sound person to turn up the bass when she performs her renowned “Bad Girls”. When she is unsatisfied with the sound system, M.I.A leads the crowd in singing along to an a capella version before the beat rattles and her fans are given the live version they came to see.

Her performance ability far surpasses the capacity of the venue, but it is the intimate atmosphere that makes the performance unforgettable.

Words By. Samantha O’Connor

Photo Courtesy of Dylan Leeder