As the home of Microsoft Corp., DigiPen Institute of Technology, Nintendo’s American headquarters and many more things tech, it seems fitting for Janelle Monáe to kick off her Dirty Computer tour on June 11 at Marymoor Park near Redmond.
The show — which was part of this summer’s Marymoor Park Concerts series — also featured St. Beauty as the opening act. The duo is made up of Alexe Belle and Isis Valentino and like Monáe, they are part of the Atlanta-based artistic collective, Wondaland Art Society.
Having evolved since her two previous studio albums from “The ArchAndroid” to “The Electric Lady,” Monáe’s latest studio release, “Dirty Computer,” is the first album that does not feature her android persona Cindi Mayweather. Instead — as mentioned in interviews and profile pieces in Rolling Stone and The New York Times leading up to the album’s April 27 release — “Dirty Computer” is Monáe stepping into a more authentic self.
This theme of being one’s true self was echoed throughout Monáe’s show on Monday as she addressed the crowd between songs, often thanking her fans for their support and telling them it has really made her feel seen and validated.
Before performing “Primetime,” which is off of her second album, Monáe also gave a short speech about love.
“Love is at the center of it. They say that we’re radical,” she said. “Well, you’re right. Love is a radical idea.”
Monáe encouraged audience members who came with someone they loved to get close and smile at each other. And while she performed the song, the big screen behind her on stage panned through the crowd showcasing people doing just that and couples of all forms embracing — all of which was met with enthusiastic applause from the crowd.
In recent months, Monáe has become a more notable LGBTQ icon after publicly coming out as queer in her Rolling Stone interview in April. With her signature androgynous style — often rocking a black and white tuxedo suit (though she has starting branching out to other colors), which she has referred to as her uniform — Monáe’s sexuality has come under questioning since she first appeared on the music scene in 2007. When the Rolling Stone story came out with Monáe coming out, Merriam-Webster posted on its website that lookups for “pansexual,” which is how she identifies, rose 11,000 percent.
According to merriam-webster.com, pansexual means “of, relating to, or characterized by sexual desire or attraction that is not limited to people of a particular gender identity or sexual orientation.”
Monáe kicked off her tour during Pride Month and planted throughout the concert venue were rainbow flags that many audience members grabbed and waved throughout the show.
Monáe’s performance was a combination of songs from “Dirty Computer,” including “Crazy, Classic, Life,” “Screwed” and “Pynk,” as well as past hits such as “Yoga,” “Q.U.E.E.N.,” “Cold War,” “Electric Lady” and “Tightrope.”
In addition to showcasing her vocal talents, Monáe proved to have as many moves as her backup dancers. During the introduction to one of her recent hits, “Make Me Feel,” she performed a routine with her sillouhette featured on the big screen in a performance reminiscent of the King of Pop himself, Michael Jackson.
Monáe closed with “Americans.” While the song highlights many of the social issues facing this country including the gender pay gap, police violence against black people and immigration, it is hopeful with a narrator confident that these ills will be addressed and “it’s gon’ be my America before it’s all over.”