As I tried unsuccessfully to send in a tweet the night of this show, Janelle Monae’s performance made me realize how lucky we are to be young and/or alive in 2010. Yeah, we might have missed James Brown, Otis Redding and a ton of other great musicians, but we get to experience an even wider variety of acts so forward-thinking that they just might be crazy. And even though she blew my mind at Bonnaroo 2009, she managed to be even better this year.
Janelle started off with what looked like the intro to a Sunn0))) show — everyone hiding their faces in black robes. But that quickly exploded into a funky space-age R&B set. Really the closest thing to her show that I can give you is Robyn. They’re both quirky, jaw-dropping dancers who love to prowl the stage. And while I really can’t chose a favorite between them, I might have to give Ms. Monae the edge.
Now let me address her only low point: her setlist arrangement. She started off with a high-energy banger, but then immediately went into a slow song. Janelle, you gotta save that one for halfway or even 2/3 of the way through. Then she wound up saving all of her best, most popular songs for the very, very end. Sure, her show wasn’t lacking in great songs, but I’d space out the ones that will get the crowd going from the very first chord.
But once she got us going, it really never stopped. I wouldn’t be surprised to see “Tightrope” land very, very high on my year-end list of songs. It’s fantastic on record and perfect live. Then to end with “Come Alive” was really just icing on an already delicious cake. And yes, Kevin did come out to sing with Janelle, but “Make the Bus” was never even close to one of my favorite songs so it was a treat, but still a little flat.
More photos after the break