Wednesday, July 8, 2009
The AfroPunk festival at BAM continued through this past Monday and featured a terrific example of what the next big thing looks like in the form of Janelle Monae. I've been hearing about Janelle for more than a year and I may have seen her a stage in the last 6 months, but what I saw on Monday was an unforgettable "I saw her when" moment.
The set was short about a half hour, in front of a crowd seasoned with neon teen skate rockers, artists of all kinds, counter-culture holds outs and Hip-Hop grandparents. The audience, hyped on Janelle for hours leading up to the show erupted when she appeared and kept high and deep energy levels for her throughout.
Her band of three was as fast and furious and rock star appropriately over the top as Janelle was, black ties and all. Janelle as you'll see in the pics, has a specific style that accentuates her moves whether shes posed for shock, or poised to bare her soul, or even suddenly paint a picture, while singing, which she did.
Of the band's style I especially dug the Prince Valiant do on the bass player. The songs went from high powered herky-jerky rock funk pop numbers that I recognize but whose titles escaped me, to a very sweet rendition of Smile, dedicated to Michael Jackson.
Moving The Crowd: two guys were motivated to these heights, climbing a nearby
trailer and becoming impromptu backup dancers, by Janelle Monae's performance.
The descriptions I heard, in the many post performance conversations were heavy with references to André3000 and Annie Lennox. I could add to that Grace Jones, Gwen Stefani and Marvin Gaye. But I think while it may be hard to aptly condense her windup-metropolis-robot-slash-moshpit-rage-meets-pop-syncopated-movements and the jasmine-velvet-whispers-broken-by-primal-screaming-and-funk-grunts of her voice into an easy description; I think you'll agree when you see her that we owe it to her to condense all that she is and will be into two descriptive words; Janelle Monae.
And since this is Photo Wednesday, here are some more views from Afro Punk 09
(Don't for get the Afro Punk Block Party is this sunday in Clinton Hill)
lemme guess; radiohead.