The EssenceFest Recap Part I
This morning, I was slammed with ideas and revelations from this weekend at EssenceFest that I knew I wanted to write about in today’s blog.
First things first, I had a great time. Beyoncé was Beyoncé. I mean she put on a master class on how to perform. There’s a reason why she’s adored. The woman can put on a show. She attacks the performance. She is like an athlete at the Olympics. It’s serious business. You can tell a lot is put into every single detail. Every light, every stitch of clothing. I salute her. She’s a beast. When she said that she was inspired when she saw Michael Jackson live as a child, you can tell that’s her goal. That level is what she’s gunning for. She’s already legendary and she earned it. When you see her perform, you can tell she loves it and you can tell she works HARD. Whether you are a die-hard Bey fan or not, you have to respect her work ethic. Period.
Ok, now to the nitty-gritty.
Wow, not sure where to start.
Maxwell left me feeling some kind of way. He closed out Friday night’s show, but I think Jill Scott should have. She KILLED IT. Only Jill Scott can seriously wear fronts on her bottom teeth (fake gold/silver teeth), sing amazingly and people totally ignore that, be in awe of her and STILL say she has the best smile on the planet. With fronts in her teeth. Like Trinidad James… ONLY JILL. That’s real talent folks that’s insane energy. NO ONE ELSE. I love Jill.
Other notable performances over at the Super Lounges. Emile Sande. She’s already massive and huge in the UK and she’s grinding to really make her name known in the U.S. She was absolute perfection. I was so happy that I was already on to her and like her album anyway. It was a treat to see her live and she’s going to be huge here in the states too.
I only got to hear the last two songs in Faith’s set because it was impossible to get in. We had to spend a little time in Bilal’s set, which wasn’t a problem for me because I’m a huge fan of his. My homegirl… well she said he scared her. I bought her a drink for being a good sport.
Faith looked gorgeous and sounded great. She even let her fans get on stage at the end and dance with her and sing along. Faith looked like she was having a ball, but honestly, she was mainstage material. Faith has been in the game forever, she’s got steam from the R&B divas show and she has enough hits to have the mainstage audience sing along with her. So I’m still a little mad off of that.
One of my favorites of the weekend was my girl Tamia. Tamia is stunning in person and her voice was flawless. FLAWLESS. She even shouted out her hubby basketball player Grant Hill and told the crowd they’ve been married for 15 years. GOTTA LOVE THAT! Tamia has hits yall, and no one sings a power ballad with such ease and the crazy high notes like her. People were singing her songs word for word. She was on point. Folks were going nuts off of her classic “Stranger in My house.”
The one group that made me lose my ever-loving mind was New Edition. Keep in mind, by the time they hit the stage I was on my seventh drink, but I lost my voice. I was so happy to see Ronnie, Bobby, Ricky, Mike, Ralph and Johnny and that they were still dancing and singing so well, I just lost it. It was a moment of nostalgia and if you were a young black girl growing up in the 80s and early 90s, this reunion was a BFD (Big Fucking Deal).
I was really looking forward to my girl Janelle Monae, who said she was under the weather, but still rocked out anyway with a funky orchestra. She’s beautiful and she’s an awesome choice for a Cover Girl spokesperson. She exudes individuality and confidence. She sang two Prince covers, which makes sense since they’ve been working together and he’s given her his very rare seal of approval. I was disappointed she didn’t perform QUEEN, the new jam she has out with Erykah Badu. I feel like even if she didn’t have Erykah, she should have done it anyway. They killed it at the BET awards, and it would have been a song that most people would have been familiar with.
I was growing increasingly annoyed with people around us and on the bathroom line saying that they didn’t like Janelle, and that she was weird and confused them. I quipped back that Janelle had a full orchestra, was fully clothed, danced like no one’s business and never cussed or sang about sex. Meanwhile, if Gucci mane got on the Essence stage and called us bitches, people would keep on dancing… Rant over. There were moments where Janelle went a little bit to the left, but with artists like her, that’s to be expected. That’s one of the many moments I complained about narrow thinking in the black community, ignorance and all out foolery. And I complained a lot. I even tweeted that I was tired of black people by Sunday. And I was. I really was. To quote from Spike Lee’s brilliant movie, Bamboozled, “I don’t want anything to do with anything black for at least a week.” The classic was ahead of it’s time and basically discusses the decline of black folk and stereotypes in the media and how we are in fact going backwards. The movie came out in 2000, but you would swear it was something that happened right now. Sometimes Spike can be a genius. I own this movie and I actually love discussing it with my friends.
Trey Songz gets the pleasant surprise award. Trey was suffering from a twisted ankle, but you’d never know it. He came out in a suit looking dapper, and finally by his last song, he was shirtless. He made us wait for it though. Sitting through his set, I realized Trey’s had a lot of hits too. The only thing I didn’t dig was him making us sit through the trailer of the new movie he’s in Baggage Claim. Like, I want to see the movie, but really, sir?
Other than that, he held the crowd, he was charming and he has a really great voice. I was impressed by him.
Since she preformed first on Friday, it kind of went to the back of my mind. BRANDY was fantastic. She looked great, she sounded great, she was sexy. She did a really fantastic job. She blended old and new songs very well and she was great.
I thought Keyshia Cole was fantastic, but her one costume change cost her a song, so she didn’t get a chance to sing, “I remember.” But she had a very strong set, she looked beautiful and she also put effort into having a strong performance with her dancers. Her realness coupled with her vulnerability just makes her so loveable. You want to sing her songs loud and long.
Now, I’ve decided that Beyoncé did her sister Solange a huge solid by probably including in her rider that her sister perform on the mainstage.
Keep in mind I dig Solange and I loved her last two albums. But her brand of music fell flat in such a big arena. I think she would have been better received in the super lounge. But I will give her credit. She stood tall, and she went for it. The only thing that bothered me was, “I decided” was one of her more known songs, but her band totally didn’t have it together for that groove. She mentioned in the beginning that it was their first time playing it, to which I said, there’s a reason why people rehearse. So, once she got to the bridge, where everything fell apart, me and my homie started to head toward the bathroom. She did a good job on T.O.N.Y, another song I adore.
As for old school pimp, players. LL Cool J. had that place on fire. His sex appeal crosses demographics, women younger than 30 and well over 50 were rump shaking and swooning.
Charlie Wilson. What can you say about the man? He had such a high-energy performance, filled with so much soul and passion with an amazing voice, I need Maxwell (who was channeling Marvin Gaye quite a bit) and Trey Songz to really use Uncle Charlie as a blue print to keeping folks grooving as an AARP member.
So there you have it folks. That’s my non-quick review of the shows I was able to take in at the EsssenceFest. I missed out on my girl Chrisette Michele and Mint Condition, but that tends to happen.
My travel companions said Avery Sunshine, Leela James and Blackstreet had very solid performances and were totally worth checking out.
You really can’t do it all.
Stay tuned for my recap on the convention center and the panels and the inspiring session with Iyanla Van Zant and we haven’t even gotten into me running into an old lover, making eye contact several times with actor Craig Robinson (Darryl from the Office; star of movie Peeples and This is the End, Hot Tub Time Machine) and not doing anything about it 😦 and almost literally bumping into actor Morris Chestnut and him ignoring me when I said, “Hi Morris.” We also need to talk about me not confirming or denying eating a lollipop made of weed, and a very telling tarot card reading, confirming a bunch of things about myself that I knew all along…
I may have to break this all up into three parts. This was already pretty long. Sorry folks!!!