No one could tell it was a Wednesday evening inside Webster Hall, as a massive crowd gathered for the New York City stop on the “All Hearts” tour, co-headlined by singers Kelis and Robyn.
As show openers, hip-house group Far East Movement yelled, “Make some noise for Brass Monkey,” and proceeded to make one of their crew members dance around wearing a monkey head. Concertgoers also couldn’t tell it was a pop-dance concert as Englishman Dan Black prepped the crowd for a session of melodramatic electro, wearing a black skeletal shirt and gold skinny jeans. Swedish pop star Robyn would later close out the night with an amazing performance, which proved why she’s been going strong for almost 15 years.
Hitting the stage wearing a multi-colored, patterned bodysuit and a silver platinum wig, it was hard to imagine that Kelis’ fit frame expelled a baby a year ago. While a heartbeat blared through the speakers on the stage, Kelis made the audience, predominantly male, put their hands over their hearts and pledge the following: “I came here for one purpose. I came to dance. I will not stare. I will not judge. I will participate. Because we control the dance floor.” As soon as the audience was done with their induction, “Emancipate,” a track off her new album Flesh Tone, kicked off the night with volcanic percussion and thumping beats that would last well into midnight.
The Harlem native performed some of her classic records by mashing them up and jumping from one back-in-the-day song to the next including “Caught Out There” and “Got Your Money.” Always the candid entertainer, Kelis stopped the band mid-set and revealed to the audience, “This is as real as it gets. My kid got a cold this week, so I got one too. And I’m a fu**ing disaster right now.” No one could really tell, even when she screamed over the bass. “I started antibiotics yesterday,” she confessed before plunging into a near-flawless performance of “Get Along With You.”
After closing out with “Acapella,” Kelis, 30 years old and 10 years into her career, not once showed signs of wavering despite being ill. Instead, she pulled out all the stops for Flesh Tone‘s homecoming in the city that raised her.
Photos by Cassidy Maldonado for Rap-Up