Monday, August 24, 2015

Where To Be Merry: Janelle Monáe and Wondaland Present The Eephus Tour, Powered by Toyota @ The Fonda Theatre

On Friday, Aug. 21, Janelle Monáe and her Wondaland label crew held a free performance at The Fonda Theatre in Hollywood as part of their seven-city EEPHUS Tour.

The event was super secret, where even an RSVP didn’t guarantee entry (I received an email that said my RSVP couldn’t be accommodated; fortunately and thankfully, I got a last-minute hook-up).

Doors were slated to open at 7 p.m., but actually opened at 7:15 p.m. Eager fans, many who had queued outside of the venue since earlier that afternoon, patiently filed inside, flocking to the front of the stage. About an hour later, a DJ started to raise the energy level, by spinning a smooth blend of the newest R&B, hip-hop and rap hits — like Fetty Wap's "Come My Way" and Drake's "Hotline Bling" — while also throwing in a few classic old school tracks for good measure.

At 9 p.m., Roman GianArthur commenced the show, playing to an ecstatically cheering crowd, as clouds of paper confetti burst into the air.

For the next two hours or so, different Wondaland artists — St. Beauty, Deep Cotton, Jidenna, Roman GianArthur and the Electric Lady herself, Janelle Monáe — graced the stage, sometimes alone, and many times together. Blackish’s adorable Miles Brown (Jack Johnson) made an appearance, wearing a dapper dark grey vest & slack combo with a black collared shirt, effortlessly showing off his impressive dance moves.

The Wondaland crew played all of the songs off their newest EP, Wondaland Presents: The Eephus, released Friday, Aug. 14. Janelle Monáe and Jidenna (pictured below) performed the EP’s most recent singles, “Yoga” and “Classic Man.” Each artist also delved into their own catalog, performing about two to three additional songs. Janelle Monáe sang the cult classic “Tightrope” and her namesake, “Electric Lady.”

Every Wondaland member brought his or her own flavor during the night. Deep Cotton delved deeply into rock'n'roll with their music and also with their stage antics, literally rolling and somersaulting across the stage. Jidenna proved he wasn’t only a classic man, but a classic man who could dance. Gian RomanArthur (pictured below) revealed his skills on the guitar, flowing from funk to blues and everything in between. At one point, he even made a wardrobe change, switching from a bright red leather jacket to a rugged American flag draped across his neck and bare chest. The St. Beauty duo revealed their melodic voices and hypnotizing songs, with a soft and feminine yet compelling stage presence.

But probably the most riveting moment was when the entire Wondaland team united onstage for the finale, to sing their latest song, “Hell You Talmabout.” It’s a gripping, sobering song that shouts out the names of African-Americans who have died in the hands of police brutality. Fists — from the artists onstage to the audience members in the balcony and floor section — were raised resiliently in the air. The Wondaland team has been singing the song during appearances throughout the U.S., including on the TODAY show and at a protest against police violence in Hollywood, earlier that Friday afternoon.

I applaud and happily and vocally support artists who don’t only make amazing art, but who are also using their positions of power as leaders to attempt to bring about positive social change. The Wondaland team has proven they are doing this, with their incredible EP filled with catchy tunes, an amazing show (for free!) and their involvement with important current issues.

Purchase The Eephus and I’ll see you at the next Wondaland concert!

For more information:
On Spotify, On iTunes

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