We Go Hard: A Photo Roundup of M.I.A.’s HARD NYC

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M.I.A. had a lot riding on Saturday’s HARD NYC festival on Governors Island. Following disappointing reviews of her latest album and the cancellation of the LA incarnation of the event, this was a chance for her to soar back, phoenix-like, and reclaim her crown. Unfortunately, a poor sound mix and a thunderstorm that cut her set short saw to it that that didn’t happen. Fortunately, however, for the thousands of fans in attendance, the day offered plenty of other highlights to make the excursion more than worthwhile.

Rye Rye represented Baltimore with a super-energetic set that could have doubled as the best aerobics class ever; Skream + Benga brought UK-style dubstep to the US masses; Sleigh Bells silenced the critics who think they need anything more than a guitar, a microphone, and a boat-load of amps to conquer the crowd; and Die Antwoord so thoroughly embodied the spectacle and over-the-top attitude they’ve constructed that few people thought to care just how genuine their act is.

All in all, we’re calling this one a success, even if it didn’t turn out that way for the main act. We’re not going to jump on the bandwagon and say it’s all over for M.I.A. though. We have faith she can still get back on top — there were just too many forces working against her this time.

Click through below for a gallery of images from HARD NYC.

– Intro by Doug Levy

Going through security, we had to take off our shoes. What is this, an airport?

We soon realized the reason, however: there were candy ravers present. Which means (so far as narcs are concerned): DRUGS.

Rye Rye brought B’more up to Governors Island.

And plugged herself as “M.I.A.’s protégé,” which we thought was a little weird.

The Rihanna twins onstage loved it though.

We ran into Flavorpiller Ali, who was stoked on Skream + Benga. We were stoked on her dino hat.

Whoa, did these bros come all the way from Chicago?

A totally mad hatter. Really: you should’ve seen his raver candy.

You guys! Ke$ha was there! (Just kidding.)

Sleigh Bells slayed. (Bet they’re not tired of that headline yet.)

Alexis Krauss made total fanboys out of us.

Their set made us woozy with noise-pop glee.

Or maybe that was the beer? Note to other concert promoters: roving beer girls = great idea.

Extra points for avoiding the lazy “Free M.I.A.” shirt trap.

But it was all about Die Antwoord that night. We still have ’em in our head this morning, much to our officemates’ chagrin.

Enter the Ninja!

Obligatory Ninja crotch shot. Sadly, he didn’t don his Pink Floyd boxers until later in the set, after we’d been kicked out of the photo pit.

M.I.A. was forced to cut her set short after a thunderstorm took over the island.

She did her best to entertain the crowd before that, however, struggling with a bad sound mix, and eventually performing a cappella when they started to shut things down.