Janelle Monae at the Masonic

Janelle Monáe Brings Message of Love and Acceptance at Masonic

in SF Concert Reviews by

I just love Janelle Monáe. And I say that with absolutely no reservations. Not only is her music bangin’ and contagious, but she’s also such an innovator when it comes to style and performance that last night’s show in San Francisco was truly a feast for all senses. The GRAMMY®-nominated singer-songwriter, producer, actress, and activist singer brought her A-game from start to finish at the Masonic and had everyone in the audience singing and dancing the whole night through. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever seen the audience at the Masonic move so much during a performance.

Janelle Monae and her crew of dancers last night at the Masonic in San Francisco

But the show was so much more than just the music. It was a sort of hip-hop/R&B sermon if you will, an opportunity for Monae to reach out to her fans and preach her message of love and acceptance, which comes just in time for Pride week.

The pint-sized funkstress has always been a strong advocate for the LGBTQ community and so throughout the evening, it came as no surprise that with every song intro that presented itself she encouraged her devotees to not only embrace their differences but to share them with the rest of the world. Since according to the singer, it’s really those differences that make us unique and special so they should be celebrated. It was a message that was easily embraced by a city that’s always welcomed diversity and quirkiness but one that needed to be heard especially in today’s trying times.

But it wasn’t all about politics at the show last night. People were there to party and the 32-two-year old with the black and white gradational braids brought it. The musical chameleon that brings up visions of Prince, Michael Jackson and James Brown all at once, performed a series of songs from all three of her albums climbing up and down on a white stage resembling the inside of some futuristic space station. She first took the stage wearing a red and white leather jacket with checkered leggings, some starry-eyed glasses, and a funkadelic looking hat, but then cycled through a few different outfits throughout the night, like some sort of fashionista on the New York runways.

The highlight of the show came halfway into her set when she brought out the infamous vagina pants from her music video “Pynk” as she performed the tongue-in-cheek song that celebrates womanhood. Onstage with her was a crew of finely choreographed backup dancers, accompanied by trumpets, electric guitars keys, and drums, a colorful scene that would have made George Clinton proud.

After an epic finale of her biggest hit to date “Tightrope,” Monáe came back for a couple of encores. “So Afraid” and “Americans,” two songs that tied up a perfect evening of funk, soul, and old school rap. This is one hot ticket you won’t want to miss if her spaceship lands in your town.

Photos by Louis Raphael

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An avid drummer whose discography includes albums on Digital Nations (a Steve Vai imprint), music critic Louis Raphael has always kept a pulse on the San Francisco music scene. After many years as the San Francisco Music Examiner for Examiner.com and AXS.com, he decided to start Music in SF® as a way to showcase what the San Francisco music scene really has to offer.

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