Erykah Badu – AKA Analog Girl in a Digital World, AKA Medulla Oblongata, AKA Sarah Bellum, AKA Fat Belly Bella – is a polarizing figure at Casa Afrobella.
I love her and I tend to err on the side of Erykah-can-do-no-wrong. My husband has never been a big fan of her music, and having been dragged out by me to see her perform live more than once, can be quite critical of Mz. Badu.
So you might imagine, her performance at Lollapalooza gave us much to discuss, and ammunition to support our opposing points of view.
We rushed across the enormous festival grounds from the Budweiser tent where Yeasayer was enchanting the crowd with their layered harmonies, to the Adidas tent just in time for her set to begin. Except…instead of a resplendent E. Badu taking the stage on time, there was a DJ spinning hip hop anthems. And then her backing band took their sweet time taking the stage. And then the band proceeded to play Amerykahn Promise – stretching the song out into a prolonged instrumental jam. It was then when my husband turned to me with that know-it-all smirk.
“You know what’s gonna happen, right?”
Alas, I did.
Having been to last year’s Lollapalooza, when Lou Reed went over his set and created an unfortunate domino effect of performances – I knew the timeline was STRICT at Lolla. Thanks to Lou Reed’s overspill, Band Of Horses wound up still playing their set when Jane’s Addiction took the stage, which caused a whole lotta sonic confusion. (I blogged about it last year when I covered for Rumbum.com).
The salient point is – Lollapalooza is a concert that runs like clockwork. It has to, because SO many big names are involved. There is no time for a long, drawn out intro – no matter who you are. So from the very beginning, I knew Erykah’s set was going to end with another band already performing in the vicinity. I am not sure if she knew that or not, I just wish she’d taken the stage on time. Because it gave my husband and other critics ammunition for criticism.
When Erykah finally took the stage, all eyes were on that hair. Wow. Erykah was adorned by striking pale gold mohawk, which she accented with enormous feather-shaped gold earrings. Complete with her printed dress, belt, and bold jewelry her look was that of a futuristic, domestic goddess. As she serenaded us with 20 Feet Tall, she looked and acted the part.
I thought she looked beautiful – I was expecting an oversized afro-style and she caught us all by surprise. I heard a rocker chick in front of me say, “is that what she thinks of us? Lollapalooza is about blonde mohawks?” I don’t know if Mz. Badu’s hair was meant to be an homage to all things edgy, but it guaranteed that her look was talked about. She was striking and gorgeous and I loved it on her. Having said that – everything ain’t for everybody.
I was instantly under Erykah’s spell, but it took my husband a bit longer. When her set switched from sedate to funky, he started feeling the flavor. The Healer got the whole crowd dancing, and she just got funkier and funkier on jams like Annie (Don’t Wear No Panties) and On and On. Then it was my turn to give my husband that self satisfied smirk. Cause Erykah was killing it.
But alas, exactly what we knew was gonna happen, happened. Erykah had just cast her spell with the Dilla-produced Didn’t Cha Know, and had segued into an inspired cover of Lena Horne’s If You Believe from The Wiz…when the hard rock band Wolfmother started playing across the field. See for yourself.
Erykah was gloriously Erykah, and it delighted this R&B fan to see her play a rock/electronic testosterone laden event like Lollapalooza. She definitely had the audience in the palm of her hand for a bit there. I just wish she’d taken the stage more promptly and avoided the sonic conflict.
Did you see Erykah at Lollapalooza? Would love to hear your thoughts on her performance, her style, and of course – that HAIR!