On Sunday August 23, Janelle Monáe brought her Wondaland record label artists - Jidenna, St. Beauty, Deep Cotton, and Roman GianArthur – to the intimate settings of The Independent in San Francisco, California, as part of the national tour of secret shows, showcasing an eclectic mix of rock, R&B, hip-hop, rap, dance, and even folk.
A DJ kicked off the night, creating a dance club atmosphere to calm the antsy crowd before the lights went down. Roman GianArthur came out with the iconic lines, “Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today to get through this thing called life”, kicking off the show with Prince classic “Let’s Go Crazy”. Half way through the song the pint-sized powerhouse, and Wondaland creator, Janelle Monáe came out, exploding the crowd into a frenzy, also setting the tone and theme for the night, as artists came on and off, popping in and out of one another’s sets throughout the night.
Acts came on and off the stage, much like a Motortown Revue, performing their singles, with covers also mixed in as St. Beauty played Sheryl Crow’s “Strong Enough” and Janelle Monáe and Jidenna melding Dr. Dre’s “Nuthin’ But a G Thang” in her hit “Electric Lady”. The variety of genres also highlighted the harmony between the artists and fans, with Deep Cotton’s Afropunk attack and St. Beauty’s psychedelic R&B, both standouts and crowd pleasers in an unlikely pairing in one concert.
Janelle Monáe, of course, was the highlight of the evening, performing with intense energy; fans fanning her toward the end of her set while being draped in a cape, a tribute to the hardest-working-man-in-show-business James Brown. Performing the aforementioned “Electric Lady”, along with hits “Q.U.E.E.N.”, “Tightrope” and duet with Jidenna on their single “Yoga”, Monáe and co. ended the show with their powerful protest song “Hell You Talmbout”, chanting a list of names of victims killed by police brutality. Earlier in the day the Wondaland artists protested in San Francisco's Mission District calling for an end to the violence.
Although ending on a serious note, The Eephus Tour’s stop in San Francisco was a cause for celebration, showcasing the incredible artistry of the Wondaland line up. You can catch clips of the event from their Oregon show on Yahoo.