Janelle Monáe's Eraserhead hairdo and gracefully peppy retro-soul hit "Tightrope" (with Big Boi) turned out to be mere tickets to the amusement park that is her debut album, The ArchAndroid, an Afro-Futurist psychedelic pop opera that doesn't live up to its ambitions because nothing ever could. As attuned to Kate Bush as to Lauryn Hill, to Funkadelic as to Lily Allen, the 24-year-old Atlanta R&B diva has made such a rich new funk—from the ragga-like "Dance or Die" to the School of Seven Bells-like "Wondaland"—that she was a natural to cover Prince's "Let's Go Crazy," with Prince in the audience, at this summer's BET Awards. The album has too many orchestral digressions and aimless shows of modulation (think Stereolab! The Musical), but expect them to fall away live, where she's fantastic, paying tribute to James Brown with dance moves as way-out as everything else about her. Opening for Of Montreal. All ages.
Thu., Sept. 23, 6 p.m., 2010