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Hooligan in Wondaland: My Experience at the Janelle Monae – Bruno Mars – Mayer Hawthorne concert in San Francisco

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Hooligan in Wondaland: My Experience at the Janelle Monae – Bruno Mars – Mayer Hawthorne concert in San Francisco

As I’m sure anybody who knows me is aware, last week I went to see Janelle Monae (oh yeah and Bruno Mars) in concert!  I was incredibly excited to finally see her live.

I had been listening to some of her music for a year or so but I had just bought her Archandroid album a few months ago.  I bought it the day before a road trip to LA, so I would have around 5 hours of uninterrupted time to contemplate the entire cd.  Since the itunes/mp3 introduction, it’s been quite awhile since I’ve listened to a new album all the way through, start to finish.

Her music knocked me off my feet!!  As soon as the performance was over, I started it over again, right back at track one.  Her music is incredibly rich and deep, like a buttery bowl of freshly cooked capacitors. 

When I arrived at my friend’s place I told her “you NEED to listen to the album, it’s just amazing”  when asked what kind of music it is… I wasn’t sure what to say.  As I listened it was like an interactive game of “spot the influence” I could hear the Beatles, Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder and more perfectly entwined and presented like a futuristic James Bond soundtrack.  What kind of music is it? It’s creative music, it’s inspiring music, it’s music that makes you believe that your paintbrushe provides all the electricity for the worlds lightbulbs.

If you can’t tell, I’m a fan.

Fast forward to the show.  Steph (my cousin) and I rode BART to the Mission, had some amazering nacho’s, a few beers and we were on our merry way to the Civic Auditorium.  When we got there we noticed there were a LOT of people at the park across the street, moving like a herd of cows.  Unfortunately this was our entrance line.  The line wrapped entirely around the park once, then doubled up on one side.  The security staff was well-organized though and we were in the doors in what seemed like 10 mins.

I’ve been to my share of shows in San Francisco, and much of the time the audience was hipster-sh, dressed real cool, acting even cooler, with absolutely no dancing or show of appreciation for the band.  This was much different!  The peeps outside in the line were buzzzzzin!  Most people looked happy to be there and there was a good energy in the audience.

We were also feeling pretty good, as we decided to wear clothes that we love!  After much deliberation, I decided to wear my tuxedo styled dress.  I felt this dress really channeled the Monae tuxedo style, plus it’s just a bangin dress!

I bought it from Forever21, and it looks like this:

image via
Since we were going to San Francisco I figured I needed a light cardigan to seal the deal.  I couldn’t decide between these two:

M cousin helped me decide on the red one! So we were looking pretty and feeling even nicer.

We ended up sitting in the balcony because the floor was pretty well filled by the time we were inside the main stage area.  We had pretty good seats that were in the 3rd row balcony!  While the bands played the people around us were dancing in their seats, clapping along and singing along.  It was very enjoyable.  There was a couple in the balcony tier in front of us that were standing and dancing the ENTIRE show, it was awesome.   I really reallly wanted to stand up and dance the entire time. However all the seats were packed, I didn’t want to be rude and block somebody’s view.  

Mayer Hawthorne came out dressed in spiffy color coordinated outfits.  Mayer wore an all red suit with a black tie. The rest of the group wore red long-sleeved V-neck sweaters, with white shirt underneath and black bow ties. Classy all the way. Mayer seemed to enjoy talking to the crowd a lot.  They had a lot of energy and their songs were smoooth with liberal soul and funk, plus a little pop to keep it catchy.  I am definitely planning on getting their album. 

Next up was Janelle Monae and her Androids.  I was so so sooo excited.  The set was presented as a film, and while the Suite II Overture was playing various screens presented the musicians and finally Ms. Monae all in James Bond style.  She put on a real performance the entire set, seemingly filled with limitless energy. 

She fully incorporated her actions to further animate the story of each song.  At one point she is fighting against her enemies, knocking them out.  She quite effectively went “back in time” and then sang  Jackson 5’s “I want you back” with all the smiles and starry-eyed looks of a young Michael.  Afterwards she went “back to the future” and moved on to her next song.  During “Mushrooms and Roses” she made a painting while singing.  The painting was of the outline of a nude woman with “LOVE” painted in large letters across the bottom.  In the middle of her set she came out accompanied by a guitar and sang “Smile” which was a nice break up of the set, and really highlighted her vocal abilities. My absolute favorite part of the whole experience was the performance of “Come Alive”.

During “Come Alive” she was channeling a manic energy, flying around the stage and belting out notes like nobody’s business.  She seemed to be at a peak in her entire performance for the night.  She was doing back and forth singing with the crowd, having it get more and more involved with each go.  Then she began to get lower, leaning on the mic stand as she knelt down, eventually sitting on the stage.  As she did this, every member of the band, as well as the dancers gradually lowered as well.  She yawned, stretched out her arms and lay herself out on the stage!  Meanwhile as the band and dancers got, lower the music got softer and more minimal, until eventually the entire band was laying down on the stage, while playing just the bass line and some slight percussive rattle.  They lay like that for a moment, then out from the void arose Ms. Monae’s hand. She began to snap her fingers in time, the music got louder, the entire band and her reanimated and she belted out  “that’s when I COME ALIVE!!!!!!” and went to town all over again.  It was pure magic, no illusion.

Unfortunately I don’t remember much about the Bruno Mars set…!  I actually only knew a few of the songs that are played on the radio, so I don’t know the names or anything.  I can say that he put on a great performance, a lot of positive energy and my oh my every time he smiled at the crowd, all I could hear was screaming for a minute or so. 

All in all it was a great show.  I really would like to see her perform with an orchestra, I think it would be a fantastic experience.  If you have a chance to see her, I highly recommend it!


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