Check in at Bill Graham to see Janell Monae opening for Bruno Mars 

Yes, tomorrow night at San Francisco’s Bill Graham Civic Auditorium, the latest pop/R&B It-boy Bruno Mars will be regaling fans with his smooth, soulful style. But there’s a great reason to get there early — just to catch the opener, one of our favorite new artists, the brilliant futuristic funk-rocker Janelle Monae.

How far-out is she?

Put it this way: Her first “The Chase” EP and following “The ArchAndroid” album are Parts One, then Two/Three, respectively of her own Metropolis Suite, her own updating of the German Expressionist film from director Fritz Lang.

“There was a quote in that movie that went something like this — ‘The mediator between the mind and the hands has to be the heart,’” says the pompadoured, perpetually Ray-Banned Monae, who often performs in a white zoot suit and saddles. “And when I read that, I said ‘That’s me. That’s who I am. I’m the heart. I want to be the uniter between the haves and the have-nots, the oppressed and the oppressor. I want my music to bring people together — I don’t want to cater to just a red or a blue state.”

What does she see in our future? It all revolves around nanotechnology, she swears.

“So there will come a time when the android brain will map the inside of a human’s, and you won’t be able to differentiate between an android calling and having a conversation with you, from an actual human. I believe these things will happen.”

Join her uniquely prescient society at

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Tom Lanham

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