One of the main reasons we wanted to go to Summerfest this year was to see Janelle Monae perform on her Dirty Computer tour. I went to see the show the night before in Chicago, so while I was at another stage shooting the Hurray For The Riff Raff set, Kari was weaving her way through the crowd at BMO Harris Pavilion to get some great photos of the Q.U.E.E.N.
The show is really something. It’s almost all songs off the Dirty Computer album, which is fine by me (it’s in my number 2 slot for best of 2018 so far) and the visual aspect of the concert is mesmerizing. The screens flip from ambient images to music video pieces depending on the song, and the lights that accompany them are perfect. Janelle spends some of the show perched on a platform above the dancers and musicians, as she rules over the show.
The Prince vibes are heavy throughout the show, as she’s charted a path as his successor as the funkiest pop star on planet Earth. There’s even a brief “Purple Rain” sample at the end of her performance of “Prime Time” that sent chills through the crowd.
As one of the most important artists in pop music right now, I’m happy to report that both shows were incredibly well attended. Chicago Theatre was a sell out and BMO Harris Pavilion was stuffed by the time she hit the stage. She makes music for anyone who likes to dance and get down, but there’s also a message (sometimes subtle and sometimes not so much) of inclusivity and love of which more artists should take note. If you want to build an audience, stop pushing people away.