Janelle Monae – Givin’ Us What We Love at Koolhaus, Toronto

The American Midwest is a curious place. While I haven’t lived there, I have driven through it a handful of times, so I feel qualified to make that statement. Amid the corn and dairy, once in a while the Midwest gets a little funky.

Quick, name the other musical family that came out of Gary, Indiana! Exactly. Aside from some great new wave college rock and the greatest poet of our generation, Minnesota’s proudest export is the greatest embodiment of funk, soul and sex.

Moving on…

This generation needs a new spokesperson for all things funky. And it may have found one. In Kansas City.

Janelle Monae is an absolute firecracker from the moment she’s wheeled on stage in a straight jacket till the white jackets drag her back off kicking and screaming (after an appropriately timed rendition of Prince’s “Let’s Go Crazy”). In fact the Prince love starts early, as she kicks off with their duet “Givin’ Em What They Love” where she takes on both parts, and it sounds just fine. She re-works “PrimeTime” without Miguel, exchanging sweet nothings with herself and you don’t question it one bit.

Even when the tempo slows, the energy stays high. Her command of the crowd is astounding. I’m not exactly sure what it looks like when a Toronto crowd loosens up and has fun, but this may have been it. I’d say at least half the crowd were on board when she instructed everyone to get low, crouching or sitting on the ground, before she climbed on top of them and swam through the welcoming arms with incredible ease and comfort.

There really is no end to how much I can rave about this show. Her energy, voice, choreography, and confidence combined kick the ass of so many live performers out there today. While the show is tightly crafted and runs like a well-oiled android, she still has fun with herself. Which is light years beyond most R&B performers with their vocal gymnastics and macho posturing.

Yeah, this one’s a keeper.

Get “The Electric Lady” now and check out her latest videos on her homepage or stream it on Rdio

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