In the end, it’s all about sound. That was the takeaway from Janelle Monáe’s Sunday Life Is Beautiful set at the Ambassador Stage, where one of the festival’s most celebrated performers was totally undone by tragically poor acoustics.
The 27-year-old singer perhaps best known as the female voice behind Fun’s hit single “We Are Young” brought her usual elements to the stage: a crack 9-piece band, stylish outfits and hair, infectious live energy and a setlist packed with dynamic R&B and soul songs. And in the end, none of that really mattered, since the music came through the speakers sounding thin and distant, conveying none of the nuance of Monáe’s vocals or her instrumentalists’ efforts.
It was especially surprising given the quality of sound at the Ambassador throughout Saturday, when it outclassed the larger Downtown Stage in that department. Chalk it up as a major disappointment from an otherwise enjoyable weekend.