Music + Movies + Books

Janelle Monae + NYC.


Janelle Monáe? Amazing. Seriously. Last night was one of those magical concert experiences where you know you’ve witnessed something really special. This girl…she is something. I need to see her again as soon as possible. SO MUCH ENERGY! Such attention to detail! The screen projections on the backdrop were great, and everyone on stage looked and sounded fantastic. I just love when you can tell an artist is putting everything they have into a performance and that there is nothing else in life they’d rather be doing at that moment. Janelle’s heart is IN IT and you can FEEL IT. Love.

My only complaint about the show has to do with the audience. I didn’t count on it seemingly being made up of 95% Bruno Mars fans under the age of 20, but that’s what it turned out to be. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen such disrespect for a performer at a concert before, but maybe that’s because I tend to go to shows with an older crowd. Everyone was standing still, talking, and texting. The entire time! I don’t get it. All I know is that I’m glad cell phones weren’t around when I was a teenager, because I fear I would have missed out on that amazing feeling of total immersion and connection with who’s on stage that you get when live music is really, really good. If you’re looking down every 10 seconds to read text messages about math tests and curfews, are you really mentally engaged in the performance you’re attending? From looking around me last night, I have to say that the answer is NO. And that’s sad. Those kids missed out.

Enough grouchy old lady talk, though! Daniel and I had a great time regardless, and I think he’s in agreement with me that Janelle Monáe is really in her own category when it comes to pop music. Love, love, love her.

Here are some kind-of-okay photos from last night. Sorry about the dumb watermark thing, but I’ve had concert photos of mine wind up in some weird places.

All photos of Janelle Monáe taken at Roseland Ballroom in New York City on May 5, 2011, the first night of the Hooligans in Wondaland Tour.

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  • Reply Catherine May 5, 2011 at 2:25 pm

    Amazing photos, Anna. I had the great pleasure of seeing her twice in one night at a festival last year – I don’t think I’ve ever seen so much verve and fizz on stage. She’s the real deal, alright.

  • Reply Dan @ Manhattan Nest May 5, 2011 at 2:41 pm

    DITTO. Janelle seriously reigns supreme. She’s completely dazzling to watch by herself, and the art direction of the whole thing just *made it*.

    Your pictures turned out so awesome! THANK YOU again and again for taking me!

  • Reply Jason Hudson Dot Com May 5, 2011 at 2:50 pm

    Audiences are outrageous, that’s a fact. The concert hall I manage is mainly classical musical, so we don’t get teenagers and pop-audiences very often.

    But there’s nothing more frustrating than watching people watch the concert through the LCD screen on their camera, or worse: cell phone.

    As a concert-goer, I was once sitting behind a bunch of kids who were just chatting and taking photos and having a great old time. I was so distracted by them the entire time, wanted to throw punches —

    At the end of the concert one turned around and asked me to take a picture of him and his friends. And I lost it. Total House Manager lecture. Total Dad lecture.

    And the answer is NO, people cannot be immersed under these conditions.

  • Reply Melissa May 5, 2011 at 2:50 pm

    Seeing her next Friday with Prince here in LA — EEEEE!!

    • Anna @ D16 May 5, 2011 at 3:02 pm


      Despite the fact that I have now seen both Janelle AND Prince separately within the past few months, seeing them TOGETHER ON THE SAME NIGHT would really be something else. HAVE FUN!

  • Reply Frances May 5, 2011 at 2:53 pm

    Totally agreed about the talking and texting thing, and I thought I was just getting old and grumpy. But I was at an Iron & Wine show recently, where the majority college-aged audience stood around gabbing (loudly and drunkenly) and texting the entire time. How disrespectful!

    Also, the subtle texture on some of those photos is killer. Nice!

  • Reply Anja May 5, 2011 at 3:18 pm

    Awesome photos. Thanks for letting me know about her – she isn’t very well known in Europe, I think (we have to do something about that). Going the other way, have you ever heard Swedish singer Robyn? She’s something special on the pop scene, too!

    • Anna @ D16 May 5, 2011 at 3:27 pm

      I have heard Robyn, but I really don’t like her music! There was a lot of hype surrounding her last year, and I’ve tried to listen/like, but it’s just not my thing.

  • Reply Sherry May 5, 2011 at 3:51 pm

    Lucky you! Saw her with Of Montreal last fall. It was nothing short of amazing, especially when they preformed a prince song together at the end. Crushed to hear you don’t care for Robyn! She has some pretty crunchy beatz that make cleaning my house seem to go much faster.

  • Reply ilyana May 5, 2011 at 5:41 pm

    Yes, home girl is pretty f-ing amazing. I can only imagine the kind of energy she has on stage! Ugh, don’t get me started on kids and their phones, most of the time I want to smash them out of their hands…but I don’t think any thing productive would come out of that.

  • Reply Lori May 5, 2011 at 5:58 pm

    I try not to let kids like those bother me at shows. I find I can’t get into the music like they SHOULD be because I’m so bummed they’re not into it. I ignore them and focus on what I’m there for.

    I guess it does help that most of the shows I go to are loud and then some, so there’s no chance of hearing someone yelling directly into your ear let alone some little twerps.

    Delurking by the way, I’m Lori. I’ve been reading for a while. I dig your style.

  • Reply James Kent May 5, 2011 at 6:33 pm

    We have her playing at our Big Chill festival in the UK, 4-7th August, really looking forward to it.

  • Reply Cammie May 5, 2011 at 10:00 pm

    So jealous! I love her because her music is awesome, but also because she is from Kansas!

  • Reply Niki McNeill May 5, 2011 at 10:53 pm

    Janelle’s performances truly make you feel like you’ve transcended to another world! She’s amazing – glad you got to experience her & her fantastic band. Shame on the youngins for not appreciating….

  • Reply Monica May 6, 2011 at 3:54 am

    Sounds completely amazing! As for the kids – sounds like a generation of completely distracted people is being raised. A while ago I was on a walk in the woods and a family passed by with a boy around 12. He was playing Nintendo.

  • Reply Adam May 6, 2011 at 9:34 am

    Sounds like a fantastic show and I’m glad you had a great time! I’ll have to see if she is coming anywhere close to me so I could check her out. I totally agree with you about being glad cell phones weren’t around when I was a teen or even when I was in college. I feel I was late to adopting to the cell phone trend, and I kind of purposely kept it that way. Now that I have an iPhone, I love it, but I don’t spend even a fraction of the time on it I see other people spending on theirs. I guess I want to be engaged in what is going on around me like you said, especially at a performance. I can’t imagine going to a show just to text on a phone, might as well just sit at home and watch it on DVD if that is all someone is going to do.

  • Reply Janet May 6, 2011 at 11:16 am

    That first photo of Janelle is fabulous! …reminds me of Grace Jones.

  • Reply Missy May 6, 2011 at 11:26 am

    We went to see the Decemberists the other night – and I was amazed at the iPhones and screens before the show. During the show, for the most part, people who took an occasional photo happened. I do not mind that so much, but texting and not interested in the performance is another thing. I am glad cell phones were not around when I was a teen, too – too distracting.

    Even more strange – the person down front at the Wild Flag show a few months back pulled out an iPad!

  • Reply gracie May 6, 2011 at 12:26 pm

    Great pics, I saw her last year at a festival in Ireland, I thought she would be great and she just wasn’t! So I’m amazed to read everyone’s comments about how good she is, maybe it was an off day. I’m not sure the texting/talking is an age thing, I was at a gig last night (Kitty, Daisy & Lewis) the crowd was 16-60 kind of thing and I noticed a lot of people talking etc, even though the gig was really special, I suspect some people go to gigs because the act is the next big thing or whatever and they’re actually not into it. The acts that have been around longer might have a more loyal following who are there for the experience.

  • Reply riye May 6, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    I once read a story where one of the characters talked about “inhabiting” poems. That’s how we were with music when I was a teen (back when the dinosaurs were still around). It was such a wonderful, intense experience that I’m kind of sad people don’t seem to have that connection anymore.

    @Jason Hudson At least your audience was actually *in* the concert space. I’ve helped organize art shows where people show up, drink as much wine as they can, eat the food (sometimes try to take home the food), text, call their friends to talk about how bored they are and how “lame” the show is, and then leave without ever looking at the exhibit. A bunch of kids did that in front of my mom and she was livid. Good old mom. 🙂

  • Reply julia wheeler May 6, 2011 at 2:19 pm

    she is just too adorable!! kids these days…

  • Reply Diane May 7, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    Oh my, I’m completely with you on the rude concert goer thing. I was at an Elton John show a few weeks ago, and the woman sitting next to me recorded almost the ENTIRE concert on her phone’s video camera. It was so distracting having to sit next to that, especially since she kept panning the audience as well. I spent half of the concert ducking so that she wouldn’t keep recording the side of my face. The only time she took breaks from recording was when she was texting people or talking to people on the phone. Seriously. She kept calling her friends to talk about how great the show was, and she would also sometimes just hold her phone up so that they could “listen” from home. And no teenager excuse for her. She was at least 30.

  • Reply js May 7, 2011 at 8:35 pm

    I had the same thing happen to me at a John Mayer free outdoor concert right before he became super big. I thought I was going to have to start throwing elbows at all of the rude college-age people there.

  • Reply Ellen May 8, 2011 at 5:52 pm

    I had a similarly unfortunate experience when I was in high school. John Mayer and the Counting Crows did a tour together where they switched off on who headlined each night. I was there to see the Counting Crows primarily and they were the opening act the night I saw them. I hadn’t anticipated being surrounded by nothing but teeny-bopper John Mayer fans who talked and carried on and generally ignored the Counting Crows for their entire set which made it difficult for me to enjoy it.

    • Anna @ D16 May 8, 2011 at 6:08 pm

      Heh…that’s funny, because I remember seeing the Counting Crows open for Suede when I was in college in 1994, and they were practically booed off the stage. It was horrible, and in retrospect I feel kind of bad about it!! We definitely weren’t ignoring them, but we were determined to make them stop playing. They threw copies of their CD single into the crowd and everyone threw them back. We were out for blood! I blame the people who paired them up with Suede, because that was a pairing that just did NOT make any sense.

  • Reply Debbie May 8, 2011 at 10:38 pm

    Janelle aside, them some KILLA photos girl. Nice.

  • Reply kay* May 9, 2011 at 4:34 am

    seriously amazing photos! add ‘concert photographer’ to the list of things you’re amazing at!

  • Reply chrispito May 10, 2011 at 3:10 am

    Yeah, I twelfth everyone on the comments of the kidlets. Where’s the joie de vie????

    Great photos!

  • Reply madichan May 10, 2011 at 10:59 am

    If it makes you feel better, I saw her open for Of Montreal, and she totally won over that crowd. People basically went from apathetic to jaws on the floor in her 45-minute set. I saw some phones, but found out later that they were tweeting stuff like “Janelle Monae is KILLING IT!” so my annoyance at that dissipated. I guess since I’m in the Bay Area, people having their phones out all the time is as prevalent as air.

  • Reply May 10, 2011 at 11:24 am

    I took my sweetie to see ‘Cats’ recently, I was expecting him to be a little bored, but instead he was very irratated that the couple in front of him NEVER CLAPPED! The nerve! Those little kitties danced their little hearts out!

  • Reply Nina May 10, 2011 at 10:07 pm

    Great concert photos!

    I don’t get it either why people would spend money on concert tickets and then not enjoy the show. Also don’t understand why people are leaving before the show ends or showing up super late…

    A while back a friend and I were at a Cure concert and some people left right after the main set finished, the encore lasted probably another 45 minutes. Why would you miss that? I paid for it and want to enjoy every minute of it 😉

  • Reply Fantastic Frank May 16, 2011 at 4:03 am

    Amazing – I will personally make sure Janelle gets an audience in Stockholm were I think she is not known at all now. Thank you so, so much.
    eh, ps, can I tak a pic and use on our blog yeah?

  • Reply Bethany May 18, 2011 at 4:16 pm

    I saw her for the first time on So You Think You Can Dance last year and I fell in love! I recorded the episode and I watched her performance at least 10 times in a row. She is a STAR! Your pictures are gorgeous!

    • Anna @ D16 May 18, 2011 at 4:25 pm

      I had no idea she was on that show, I’ll have to look it up!

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