From one Moné to another, Ms. Janelle Monáe, I want to say that you are an Incomparable artist. A Visionary. A Rarity. A Gem. An inspiration to us all.Your artistry deserves more than accolades can give.
If Beyonce’s Renaissance tour is the party, Janelle Monáe’s “The Age of Pleasure” Tour is the sepia and floral sunset-covered afters to follow. If I had to describe the L.A. stop of this tour, I would have to say it was a sonic celebration of sexual exploration and freedom to do and be whatever you want to be, but Nana Kabwena described the night better.
“This is a celebration of Black Joy and Black Rest as resistance.”
The night was a safe space for the African Diaspora, allies, and those across the LGBTQIA and non-binary space—a celebration of beauty and joy through different hues of melanin, demographics, and hair textures. We danced through the groovy affirmation-filled set list and got a few surprises in between.
Dreamer Isioma, the retro sticker-clad opener, hyped the crowd up before sharing that they had just been accepted to acting school and were officially moving to Los Angeles. They were so excited to be there that they exclaimed proudly,
“I’m Black. I’m cute as fuck, I’m African, I’m nonbinary.” We all cheered in agreement.
Nana Kwabena brought out Dominican singer PAMÉ, Nigerian-born Mannywellz, and crowd favorite Jidenna during his DJ set. We all danced and smiled as he played everything from Janelle Monáe to Tyla to Tokischa and another favorite, Victoria Monét (another Moné, if I do say so myself.) His set was a musical reminder of how vast the Black diaspora is in language, culture, experience, and music. Not to mention, the three dancers on stage kept the crowd going with their stamina and grace. We almost couldn’t keep up.
The grand dame of the evening, Janelle Monáe, brought out Doechii as a surprise guest to perform their song “Phenomenal” before rocking the house with her box-braid-clad dancers, making a toast out of flower cover floors to the joys in life and showing out those incredibly under-appreciated vocals and showmanship.
The show was incredible – The set design, the wardrobe, and the setlist. If I could have photographed the whole show, I would have.
Seeing Janelle come out draped in bouquets of flowers from head to toe to “Float” meant more than just a node to A24’s Midsmomar and her love of cinema and theater. It was a breath of beautiful fresh air, seeing a Black woman take control of her destiny and give herself to the world as a gift.
She deserves her flowers and gives them to herself before waiting for anyone.
If the world wants to appreciate your greatness, Janelle, know the hoard of Monés, Monáes, and Monéts in the world do.
Photos & Words By Asha Moné