Janelle Monáe shares her American dream through a powerful performance of love

Janelle Monáe at Queen Elizabeth Theatre, 6/12/18

Janelle Monáe @ The Queen E
Photo by Ryan Johnson

Young, black, wild and free – Janelle Monáe performed her epic and unapologetically feminist show for the Queen Elizabeth Theatre Tuesday night, bringing together the friendliest group of stylish fans for her Dirty Computer tour.

When asked about the meaning behind this album’s theme, Monáe compared computers to humans in that they are constantly downloading and exchanging information. If a computer has a bug or virus, it’s seen as a negative thing – but for the computer, it’s what makes it unique. Just like with people, their own “bugs and viruses” can either be seen as a negative or a positive. She wanted to explore what it means for a society to constantly say that these differences need to conform and be reprogrammed, and that embracing her own bugs and viruses is how she chooses to resist this notion.

“It’s about embracing those things that make you unique,” Monáe said to Beats 1 on Apple Music host Ebro Darden. “Even if it makes others uncomfortable.”

Janelle Monáe @ The Queen E
Photo by Ryan Johnson

Some time after elegant and synchronized duo, St. Beauty, warmed up the crowd with dance moves as flowing and smooth as their stage presence – the “Dirty Computer” anthem introduced Monáe to the stage the same way it introduces the concept on her newest album released in April. The mix of emotions felt towards this empowering queer icon and overall goddess were instant – going back and forth between whether being her best friend, marrying her, or just being her would be the best choice. The answer? All three.

With a white stage resembling the inside of a spaceship teleporter, she entered in a red and white pleather jacket with matching knee-high boots, white checkered leggings, and one of her signature hats. (Where does she get all these trendy hats!? Asking for a friend.). For a venue filled with almost 3,000 seats for sit-down performances, it really could have gone either way – succumbing to the comfort of those seats, or ignoring the awkwardness of standing between small chair spaces and choosing to dance anyways. Monáe’s fans (aka: Fandroids) all chose the latter, dancing along with her four stage dancers that occasionally stole the show with their talent, energy and magnetism.

The crowd’s energy was unstoppable, full of so much love and liberating vulnerability. Monáe fed off the loud cheers all night long – whether through her badass red throne performance of rebellious rap “Django Jane,” the beautifully in-key audience sing along of “Electric Lady,” or her soulful speaking voice wishing us a happy pride month.

Janelle Monáe @ The Queen E
Photo by Ryan Johnson

“Love is a radical thing,” Monáe said. “And we are radical motherfuckers.” She even surprised the audience with the infamous vagina pants from music video “Pynk” as she performed the playful song in celebration of women and all their intricacies.

She served the flawless compilation of Prince, Michael Jackson and David Bowie vibes with her powerful vocals, theatricality and the perfect moonwalk imitation – all done through glorious outfit changes that featured shoulder pads and sparkly metallic pants. There were trumpets, keytars and electric guitar solos so good it was barely noticeable she went offstage to prepare for the next song.

Janelle Monáe @ The Queen E
Photo by Ryan Johnson

After an epic finale performance of 2010 hit “Tightrope,” the audience filled the theatre with deafening screams and waved their phone lights to brighten up the darkened room. Monáe and her team glided back onto the stage for an encore, where she performed “Americans,” the last song on the Dirty Computer album, like it was meant to be.


Until women can get equal pay for equal work
This is not my America
Until same gender loving people can be who they are
This is not my America
Until black people can come home from a police stop without being shot in the head
This is not my America
Until poor whites can get a shot at being successful
This is not my America

Monáe’s America is the dream all dirty computers and allies hope for. But while the fight for these rights continues, this inspiring queen the world desperately needs is welcome back to Canada any time to unite in this crazy, classic, life.