Janelle Monáe's Falling Hair Braid Brings the Superhuman Star Down to Earth

Janelle Monáe's live show is such a scripted, immaculate production that the presence of anything unexpected, however slight, stands out. She enters the stage in the same black cloak, dresses underneath in the same black pants and white tuxedo shirt, and whips her hair up into the same vertical 'do for every set — and it seems, every public appearance. But yesterday at the All Shook Down Festival in North Beach, one detail of her signature look went awry, and it colored her performance for the better.

Monáe emerged onstage as usual, in a black cloak with two other dancers, and shimmied with her back to the crowd for much of the first number, “Faster.” But when she finally turned to face the thousands gathered on Green Street and ripped her hood back, Monáe flew into such ferocious dance moves that a sole black braid fell from her now-famous hairdo, and dangled there, bisecting the elegant oval of her face, through several songs.

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