Best Of 2019

Best Woke Concert: Janelle Monae

Audiences are often reflective of the performers they’re gathered to watch. In the case of Ms. Highly Melanated, Alice in Wondaland herself, the Electric Lady Janelle Monae packed the house at her July concert at the Taft Theatre with colorful individuals from all walks of life. Monae’s 2018 album Dirty Computer was one of the best things to come out of an otherwise depressing year. Dealing with themes of race, gender, sexuality and social issues — and all wrapped up in a sci-fi dystopian box — Dirty Computer also gave us some Funk to dance it out to. So it was no surprise that her local tour stop filled Taft with a vibrant mix of fans ready to share the love. Monae gave it right back, performing the entire album and a sampling of her older hits. It was one of the most diverse concert audiences of the year in Cincinnati, which was really a beautiful sight. Taft Theatre, 317 E. Fifth St., Downtown, tafttheatre.org; jmonae.com.