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M.I.A. Reps the Real Southeast

Memo to Rage Against the Machine: The machine is winning. And how much machine can one rage against when you’re collecting massive paychecks to headline festival stages across the land? Undoubtedly, when the left coast agro-rockers were dominating the world in the mid- to late-’90s, there was a palpable sense that change was possible. Whether the cause was Tibet or Leonard Peltier, there was optimism that, under a benevolent (but admittedly frisky) leader, someone in the front office was listening.

But when Rage took the stage at Voodoo on Friday night, people seemed to just need something to break, and a soundtrack against which girls in skimpy Halloween costumes could throw up that weird hand signal/devil horns thing they do when they’re attempting to dance like it’s a Girls Gone Wild audition.

Just before Rage’s set, much more relevant social discourse was going down at M.I.A.’s set. Clad in her delightfully awesome iridescent hoodie/tights/bedazzled Converse ensemble, the Sri Lankan MC brought a different Southeastern flavor, that of Southeast Asia. When the handgun effects blasted off into the New Orleans night during “Paper Planes” amid her chants about third world democracy, they sounded far more authentic than anything being raged about later that night. PETER GASTON / VIDEO BY JESSE BLANCO / EDITED BY JED GARFUNKEL