“Dandelion Day” and “empowering” are two phrases you might not normally use in the same sentence, but with Tinashe’s and Princess Nokia’s D-Day performances, things changed.
Although different in musical style and content, Tinashe and Nokia offered performances steeped in a shared feminine power.
As her lone drummer boomed along with the speakers’ bass and her four female dancers commanded the stage just as much as she did, Tinashe began with the sexy, lethargic “Party Favors.” Later, she would introduce the dancers individually, their names projected onto the screen at the back of the stage while they danced before it. At this Dandelion Day, we humbly recognized every woman for each breath she took.
After “Party Favors,” Tinashe played an array of slow, bass-blasting R&B tracks both from her 2018 album “Joyride” and 2014’s “Aquarius.”
Before playing “Company,” (“I just need a moment, fuck and leave”) Tinashe took a poll: “How many of you guys came to the show tonight with your boyfriend or girlfriend?” Based on the audience’s response, not many.
“How many of y’all came to this concert single?”
“This next song goes out to all of you […] Who needs a relationship?”
Tinashe lay across a set of chairs while her four dancers writhed on and around her. Throughout the show, a woman next to me would intermittently cry out in anguish: “She’s so hot!”
Tinashe ended her set with “No Drama,” a popping, piano-accompanied track featuring Migos’ Offset. After an obligatory “Tinashe” chant from the crowd, she returned for an encore performance of “2 On,” leading the audience in a sing-a-long of the chorus, “Man, I love to get on / I love to get too on.”
Even before beginning her set, Princess Nokia was infectiously confident, commanding audience members to “bring me some weed” and laying down a framework for the show to follow.
The crowd erupted. The alliance of the audience had been established.
“Secondly, this is a safe space for all P.O.C. people on campus. And all P.O.C. allies, I ask you to respect the space for P.O.C. people, because this is for them.”
This was met with more cheering, shared looks of amazement, and implied requests for Nokia to “fuck it up!”
“Thirdly, this is a queer and trans safe space, okay? If you feel like your safety […] has been compromised, I’ll have security take care of it. Okay? Let’s have some fun.”
She then launched into “Brujas,” a staccato trap track in which Nokia proclaims her identity as a “black-a-Rican bruja straight out from the Yoruba,” setting the tone for the rest of the performance, which was saturated in pride for her minority status.
With an effortless cool, Princess Nokia chanted about her “little titties and my fat belly,” (“Tomboy,”) gave ode to “Boricua girls who rock yaki ponytails / … And love to my Asian chicks who make hair go straight as shit,” (“Mine,”) and revelled in her ability to “throw ‘bows in the mosh pit” (“G.O.A.T.”).
Looking at Nokia, a queer woman of color, member of the emo subculture, raised by the ignored impoverished parts of New York City, who lets her identity speak through her stage presence, performing on D-Day, was like looking at a light after expecting none to be there.
Tinashe thanked us for “Dandelion Fest,” and that was nice. (Princess Nokia had earlier shared her appreciation for “D-Day, […] Drug Day, Dick Day… Dick-You-Down Day.”) But the thanks goes mostly to the unapologetic, visibly powerful women of color that brought Dandelion Day something it didn’t have before: some heart.