Janelle Monae @ Bonnaroo 6.11.09

If you were to ask me who the most surprisingly good act I caught at Bonnaroo was, I’d hands-down have to say Janelle Monae. She was the first act I caught at Bonnaroo 2009 and the one that dropped my jaw the furthest. I wasn’t familiar with her music, but I knew she got the Of Montreal stamp of approval. Good enough for me.

Busted out of the wings to some space-age R&B, Janelle started her show at the top and kept climbing. Her music was really enjoyable, but the best part of the show was clearly her dance moves. At a festival whose performers included Kevin Barnes, Karen O and Santigold, Janelle easily had the best moves. I’d describe her stage antics as Steve Urkel meets James Brown and David Bowie. Strangely the first and last of those also come pretty close to describing her outfit as well. Classy.

For the second song, Janelle pulled out a chair and sang a very pretty slow-tempo R&B song accompanied only by electric guitar. This is also a great time to mention that Janelle is a very short girl.

And before I had to run off to the next show of the festival, Janelle brought out one last spectacle. She pulled over an easel and started painting during her song. And call me crazy, but I think they stretched out the end of the song to last until she was happy with the result. Then she chucked it into the crowd, where three people grabbed on to the painting and refused to let go.

More photos after the jump…

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