Thursday, July 17, 2008
Florida Room at the Delano, Miami Beach
She came out from behind a curtain of strobe lights and fabricated smoke, but all of the faux atmosphere in the world couldn’t outshine Janelle Monae last night at the Florida Room. She played to a capacity crowd in the SoBe speakeasy, and Neo-soulsters, hipsters, and yuppies in the crowd drank up Monae’s style. Yeah, some looked sloshed enough to crank that Soulja Boy to Sesame Street, but most were clear-eyed and rocking because her show was just that damn hot.
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Monae held the crowd (me included) in her little fist as she cranked out a set including cult faves “Sincerely, Jane” and “Violet Stars Happy Hunting.” And fuck airtight, robotic choreography a la Beyonce and Britney – last night’s crowd was blessed with soulfully possessed moves that were one part church lady getting the holy ghost, one part African warrior telling you to shut the hell up, but all parts of this fly, unique songstress. I could go on and on about how and why she’s so different from the rest – from her bob wigged bass player, to the saddle shoes on Monae’s feet - but even if you had your face buried in one of the Florida Room’s stiff cocktails, her initial expression of “I – I – I – I- I’m an alien from outer space” will let you know what your ears were missing.
I asked Janelle about the fact that she stands so far from the crowd and she said, “I think it’s very important to promote diversity because we are all human beings. Some of us may be androids, but we have to really embrace whatever makes us unique so that other people can find out how to be the best them in return.”
Rocking her signature bouffant and a tuxedo that would have undoubtedly allowed her entry into the Rat Pack, her energy last night was infectious and the crowd rocked along to the performance, some smiling in amazement and others paralyzed by such a fresh sound. But, wait. Did she just throw her jacket into the crowd? Yeah, this girl with the babydoll features and larger-than-life musical persona earned applause just breathing into the mic. And did she just climb onto the banquette and palm the ceiling as she walked? Yeah, get some when her EP, Metropolis The Chase Suite comes out on August 12. I know I will. In the meantime, check her out at www.janellemonae.com.