Crazy, classic, provocative, memorably entertaining and perfect. Janelle Monáe had what was not only the best performance of day two of Lollapalooza during her evening set on the T-Mobile stage in Chicago’s famed Grant Park on Friday, but easily the best performance of the festival so far. Possibly even one of the best performances I’ve ever seen period.
Opening up with Crazy, Classic, Life and donned in a black, red and white leather outfit with matching thigh-high red and white leather boots, as well as a black and red cap, Monáe had the crowd engaged and singing along from the very beginning of her set. That included her so easily seguing into her hit record, Screwed, before asking everyone if they were, “Ready for the Dirty Computer experience?” To which the packed crowd gave a resounding, “Yes!” Thrusting her body as if actually being screwed with her dancers who were in matching outfits, Monáe would switch from her one jacket and hat into a white and black jacket with matching white and black hat. Before going into her rapping stylistics of her single, Django Jane and then taking her seat at her royal chair that was pulled out, as she performed her empowering female anthem, Q.U.E.E.N.
By the time she got to her performance of Electric Lady, Monáe would go into a small dance break in the middle of it. Giving a beautiful vocals display that she doesn’t always get nearly enough credit for, along with the fancy footwork choreography, engaging video reels, stunning stage setup, several costume changes and empowering talks that had a purpose. Monáe showed why her incredible multi-faceted stage presence and performance is, just like herself, so next level. That you get a memorable experience from whenever you see it live that would make her mentors Outkast and even the late great, Prince, very proud.
Monáe’s own emotional pep talk telling the “beautiful Lollapalooza and Chicago crowd,” about, “Preparing for moments like this by remembering that life is only made up of small little memories. Tiny memories stacked on each another. So all I want. All I hope for tonight Chicago is that I can become, we can become a memory for you. A memory that you access when you’re feeling down, even when you’re happy. A memory you will want to pass down generation after generation. A memory that will be rooted in love, in freedom.” Also talking about how she hopes they can become that memory for everyone of love. Which she definitely did that with for myself and so many others with her very memorably stunning, classic, provocative and timeless performance that included her very beautiful singing of her very beautifully emotional ballad, PrimeTime, right after that. Only midway through her set and jokingly saying before that talk and performance that was the closing of her set, that would be one of the real turning points in Monáe’s set that really took it to the next level.
As the singer wouldn’t really of course end her set there and would come out in a costume change of her outfit from her PYNK video to of course perform the very fun and somewhat provocative single. Doing somewhat playfully dancing and thrusting with her backup dancers for that and her hit single, Yoga. Monáe really showed her great versatility dancing and singing to that before going into her hit singles, I Like That and Make Me Feel, which had the very large crowd swaying and dancing back and forth and singing along with her the very catchy and memorable lyrics.
Getting closer to the end with her very emotional record, Cold War, the multi-talented singer and entertainer let it be known, this is a, “Safe place for all the outcasts and weirdos of society. To celebrate the weirdos.” Boldly declaring, “We are fighting for the rights of women, for trans women, for reproductive rights, for the LGBTQ+ community, for those with disabilities, for working-class folks, for black folks.” You can hear the emotions in her throat as she said this is also coming, “From a proud queer black women from Kansas,” and finally declaring for the impeachment of the current President, who she took a shot at a few times during her daringly different set.
With an independent and strong voice to go with the other great performance check lists of strong stage presence, anthemic pop anthems, a beautifully great voice, great backing live band and dancers, as well as her own great choreographed dance moves throughout, you really think to yourself after seeing Monáe perform, “Is there anything she can’t do and why isn’t she headlining?”
One of the only flaws, if even any in her performance was that she wasn’t headlining and if she did possibly could’ve had more time. Which she alluded to in her closing performance of her first really big hit single, Tightrope. Monáe even counting off her band to do a final three countdown of it several times to try to prolong the ending of her set. While us and her both wish she had longer too, Monáe still definitely gave us all a very memorably entertaining, classic and daringly great set that we definitely will all remember for years and generations to come. Which we will all talk about and more than likely remember as by far the best performance of this whole festival for this year’s edition of Lollapalooza by the time it ends on Sunday.