By Imani Brammer
Walk into the Highline Ballroom to Janelle Monae’s secret Wondaland concert (an NYC stop off of her EEPHUS Tour) and the crowd is exactly what you’d expect: a massive sea of Black girl eclectic magic, from gray sister locks, to purple chunky boxed braids and glitter sprinkled afros.
As the audience eagerly waited for the concert to begin, spotted in the middle of the high energy commotion was a fan who placed her hands together in a prayer stance, closed her eyes and seemed to silently pray. Not sure what Monae did to her fans with this Yoga song, but they have obviously got their zen on fleek.
A couple of moments later and the lights cut off. Monae’s voice resounded like an omnipresent higher power from the stage.
“Dearly beloved,” she began. “We’ve gathered here today to give you this thing called Eephus. It means trinity and it’s here to save your lives.”
The beat dropped, the crowd vivaciously cheered and the concert had officially begun.
Monae stood, almost as if within an intangible cloud of greatness, donning a monochromatic one piece suit and her signature pompadour. You felt her golden energy just by looking at her. She danced and rocked to her music, mouth wide open with a smile as if she was fully enjoying her own concert.
A while later, Jidenna walked on, sleek as ever, with his usual three piece suit and pocket watch in tow. The crowd. Went. Wild. He sang, Long Live the Chief, and several other songs from the Wondaland Records EP, The Eephus, but it wasn’t until Classic Man that the crowd lost their minds. The Wisconsin native put his entire soul into dancing for the concert goers and the audience gave it right back. Devoted fans danced with him in unison; you would have thought that they practiced the choreography together.
Monae returned to the stage, and shortly before the night was over, performed Electric Lady (from the new album) and Yoga. Fans jumped from the base of their feet to the heights of the ceiling.
“Party at the beach down in Copacabana,” she sang.
“Sipping Killepitsch, got my black yoga pants on!” they sang back and the concert went on as such.
The rest of the Wondaland crew, Deep Cotton, Roman GianArthur and St. Beauty Band was just as electrifying. Deep Cotton stirred the crowd in an intensifying rock and roll inspired routine, Roman GianArthur lifted souls with his mesmerizing voice and St. Beauty’s ethereal performance gave the black girl (and boy) magic audience an extra whimsical touch.
Towards the end of the show, Monae informed the fans of how much she loves the community.
“We wanted to make sure that y’all got in for free. We’re about the people ya’ll,” she announced, about to lead us into her newly released song. “How many of ya’ll tired of police brutality? This song is called what the Hell You Talm Bout. Clap ya hands please.”
And with that, the EEPHUS NYC tour stop went from a night of riveting music to a political explosion. Together, the entire Wondaland crew sang at the top of their lungs: “Sandra Bland, say her name!…Michael Brown, say his name!”
A 20-something-year old in the middle of the crowd took her glasses off and wiped a trickling tear from her eye.
The show came to a close.
Once everyone exited the premises, all the way outside and up the block, you can still hear the fans expressing their elation from a show well done. “Hellll youuuuu, hell you talm bout!” they sang.
A fan yelled, “I just wanna stay in black heaven forever.”