With $1 billion megahotels and dirigible landing pads set to encroach on Coney Island’s janky charm as early as next summer, the talk at this past weekend's Village Voice Siren Festival was all about preservation. Matt, of Williamsburg Casio-pop duo Matt and Kim, declared war on landlords: “If they try to raise your rent, just don’t pay it. They won’t take you to court.” Tim Kasher, front man for dirge-rockers Cursive, noted New York’s growing resemblance to Nebraska. “We’re from Omaha, where you can pretty much count on them to tear stuff down. But I always thought New York was a lot cooler than that.” Nope!
But the day’s biggest draw, Sri Lanka–by–way–of–London firebrand M.I.A., was most concerned with preserving her American fan base. Having canceled a festival appearance in May because of her well documented problems with U.S. Customs, it was still unclear, even days before Saturday's show, if the headliner would be allowed past our borders. “I nearly had a seizure, trying to get a visa,” she told us in a goofy sing-song cadence. Luckily her music — Technicolor world pop, built from shards of hip-hop and Jamaican dance hall — took our minds off her legal status. Not her relationship status, though. “Where my boys at?” she asked, before launching into “Boyz.” “I’m single now!” —Amos Barshad