The new Janelle Monáe is here. More political, less overtly Afrofuturist-android, and as flawless as ever, the singer and her Wondaland crew performed songs from their new EP, Eephus, on Friday night to an enthusiastic crowd at the Fonda Theatre.
The “secret” show was free to those who signed up online prior to the event and received an email conformation (Toyota footed the bill.) Fans lined the block long before the doors opened.
Unlike Monáe’s previous shows, the Eephus tour is a collective experience; her labelmates—Roman Gianarthur, St. Beauty, Jidenna, and Deep Cotton—took center stage as often as Monáe herself, adding variety to an already dynamic performance.
The most powerful moment of the evening ended up being the ensemble’s performance of “Hell You Talmbout,” a fierce, relentless song protesting police and vigilante brutality. Members of the group took turns chanting “say her name” or “say his name,” referencing the eponymous social media movement meant to draw attention to violence against black women and men.
“Take this as your tool,” Monáe said before beginning the song. “Because silence is our enemy; sound is our weapon.”