Janelle Monae Crushes Summerstage


Our favorite cybergirl proves the buzz ain’t just hype, and none of the acts that followed cleared the bar she set.

You know you’re winning when you stagedive, people catch you and allow you to crowdsurf.  Which is exactly what happened at the end of Janelle’s excellent set yesterday.  She’s got the goods, she played to win and she owned the afternoon.

Janelle is an example–like Game Rebellion and Dragons of Zynth (who I hear from some peeps I respect crushed again at the Siren Festival)–that other artists should take to heart.  Her energy is off the hook and, like those bands and many others, she clearly gives it 100% every time.  I mean, truthfully, there are a lot of artists out there who have great songs, great voices and display an incredible level of mastery of their instruments.  So what separates the good from the great?  A winner from an also-ran?  The live performance.  It’s the proof, the rubber, all that.

Now, take a great performer and add a band that’s burnin’.  Guitarist Kellindo provided a lot of nice color as well as some rock grit to the sound.  Drummer Young Pete kept the beats bouncy and insistent.

What those performers who rise to the top understand, if only on an intuitive level, is that every performance is a chance to convert an audience member into a fan.  I believe that when they come to a show, most people want to be engaged.  At worst–particularly if they don’t know you–they’re indifferent.  Indifference is deadly because it means that you haven’t broken through the clutter and grabbed their attention in any meaningful way.  So, you should take their showing up as a challenge.   They’re saying, "Impress me."  And, yes, that’s your job every time you step on stage.  Janelle is one of those artists who understands that people are not doing her a favor by showing up.  She earned our admiration, adoration and respect.

A special edition of her EP, Metropolis: The Chase drops on August 12.  Get it.

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  • http://eperl.myphotoalbum.com ep

    as i watched Janelle climb back on stage, say her goodbyes, slam the mic stand, and run off, i was reminded of the old story about Hendrix and Pete Townshend at Monterey Pop. you know the one — where they argue about which band will go on first, and Jimi says if he has to gone on after the Who, he’s “pulling out all the stops.”

    the lesson: if somebody smashes-up the stage, you gotta go and set it on fire.

    Janelle just cut to the chase: fired it up, burnt it down, and made the crowd, and the day, hers. i came to show interested to see her after hearing her music and seeing some video, and left completely sold on her as an artist and performer. she’s no joke.

    love the photos and glad to get your thoughts on the set. i also appreciate the opportunity to learn the guitarist’s name (now i can properly tag my pics) ;-)

    much respect,
    e.

  • http://www.boldaslove.us Rob Fields

    That’s a great ancedote, Eric. Thanks! Artists can’t be afraid to bring it. It’s not about being cool. It’s about giving people experiences and, more importantly, ones that they’ll talk about afterwards. Just like we’re doing now.

  • sharon

    Great photos, Rob. I was at a BBQ in NJ, having a wonderful time, but also secretly longing to be at the show. Thanks placing me in the moment and giving
    me a glimpse of the JMonae experience. And, you got my vote. ;)