By the time M.I.A. took the stage after midnight at Brooklyn's Studio B on July 25, everyone in the sold-out crowd was either overheated, over-boozed or some sort of uncomfortable combination of the t

By the time M.I.A. took the stage after midnight at Brooklyn's Studio B on July 25, everyone in the sold-out crowd was either overheated, over-boozed or some sort of uncomfortable combination of the two. A lot of folks had been there since the doors opened three hours earlier, and there were no opening acts -- just DJs spinning music, which at least managed to keep some people occupied on the dance floor.

The good news was that in light of the long wait that night, Ms. Maya Arulpragasam was able to make it to the States for the show (her recent visa issues forced the London-based Sri Lankan rapper to cancel a few previous tour dates). Plus it's her show, and she can do whatever she wants. More power to her.

When she finally did appear, the crowd let out a collective roar of relief. She manned the stage in gold spandex pants and a fitted vest, backed by her DJ and one backup singer. In advance of her sophomore effort, "Kala," which arrives Aug. 21, M.I.A. played an all-to-brief set featuring new tunes as well as favorites from her 2005 debut, "Arular."

M.I.A's potent blend of dancehall, hip-hop, reggae and baile funk makes for an invigorating live set, with bold cuts like "Pull Up the People," "10 Dollar" the cheeky "URAQT" and audience favorite "Galang" keeping the club shaking.

In addition to the fun and fiery "Boyz" and the darker, scattered electro of "XR2," the other new material she previewed sounded promising, with songs that offer up a funkier vibe or tribal flair. She also threw in a cover of the Pixies' "Where Is My Mind," which she also sang at the Village Voice's Siren Festival at Coney Island the weekend before.

The sweaty mess of a crowd hung to her every dance beat, politically charged lyric and even caught her as she attempted stage diving. The sound at Studio B was certainly less than ideal, as most people walked away with only half their hearing still intact. But in the words of a stumbling fan as he exited the club, "Dude. So totally worth it."

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