Wearing an ankle-length beige coat and matching hat (a signature piece that almost immediately fell off), Erykah Badu opened her Saturday (Sept. 16) set at Meadows Music & Arts Festival with the fitting “Hello” off her 2015 mixtape, But You Caint Use My Phone. She finished off the song by standing arms wide open, looking up to the sky.
Throughout her performance at the Queens, New York, festival, Badu delivered deeply soulful songs from her impressive catalogue, from “Out My Mind, Just In Time” to “Soldier.” Elsewhere, she toyed with a synth pad before returning to her position at the mic.
During Baduizm gem “On & On,” Badu took a moment to interact with the crowd by asking each side to put their hands in the air, but she had a separate message for a select group: “All the people in the back what the f— you looking at?” She then took a moment to laugh and shrug before getting back into the groove.
Later in the set, Badu posed an important and timely question, “What is woke?” She explained, “Woke has nothing to do with information. Woke is not joining the latest shit because that shit is cool,” and then offered her own Badu-ist definition: “Woke is being aware of who you are at all times.”
No song proved that to be more true than the updated version of “Me” that she delivered. She introduced the song by saying, “You only know me from what you hear on the internets, so the only way for you to know [the truth] is to tell you from my own damn mouth.” She then served it straight, making sure the lyrics reflected her current life as she sang, “Had three babies, different dudes … this year, I turned 46.”
The sassy and self-confident delivery embodied all that an Erykah Badu show is — empowering, eye-opening and effortlessly mind-blowing. And even though they cut off her mic as she ran nearly 10 minutes past her scheduled end time, she had already imparted enough wisdom to last a lifetime.