By Cameron Lee
September 19, 2023
Photo: Carey J. King / CLTure
Not since Jazmine Sullivan’s show last year has The Fillmore brimmed with such unadulterated R&B affection. Victoria Monét, whose career as a songwriter is equally impressive as her vocal talent and dance acumen, was gleaming with her patented vintage golden glow on Monday night. The 34-year-old R&B songstress, who had to shift some tour dates and venues due to high ticket demand, landed in Charlotte for the third night of her Jaguar Tour to a fervent audience. Even before the evening’s opening act, the sell-out crowd was singing along to the R&B hits faintly playing over the house speakers.
Opening for Monét with a fashionably late 8:20 p.m. start was rising artist Alex Vaughn. Vaughn, who signed with famed R&B record label LVRN (6LACK, Summer Walker) in late 2021, opened with her biggest hit, “So Be It,” produced by Rodney “Darkchild” Jerkins. While the crowd was still a little chatty as she sauntered onto the stage, it didn’t take long for Vaughn to capture the complete attention of the lively audience. Flipping her song “Keep That Energy” with the beat to Notorious B.I.G.’s 1993 hit “One More Chance,” Vaughn displayed her deep vocal range, guiding many new fans through the emotions of her latest album, The Hurtbook. She even belted out some operatic notes to close her set. After opening previously for fellow DMV artist Ari Lennox and now Victoria Monét, there’s no doubt we’ll be hearing a lot more of Vaughn in the years to come.
After Vaughn’s performance, the anticipation continued to build for one of R&B’s most adored talents, Victoria Monét. As the band members started converging onto the stage, large plants and shrubs were brought out to add an aesthetic (although they would later be removed). Around 9:22 p.m., the stage lights flickered as a wave of phone lights and loud screams rippled through the overflowing crowd, who all wanted a clear view of Monét. Slowly making her way onto the stage and emerging from the darkness in a full-body robe, Monet revealed her face to hysterical screams, then ripped off the confining fabrics revealing her long golden locks and glimmering beaded outfit.
Starting her set with “Moment,” the intro song to 2020’s EP, Jaguar, Monét’s phenomenal back-up dancers strutted onto the stage before she addressed the crowd about “How hard it was to get these m*ther f*cking tickets,” promising it would be an “extra special” show. After the “Big Boss” interlude, the energy lifted to another dimension when the beat transitioned to one of Monét’s biggest hits, “Ass Like That.” Boasting a quiet confidence and her impeccable songwriting acuity with the song about her fitness routine and all-natural body, Monét balances a common hip-hop/R&B trope and turns it into a charismatic song of empowerment and hard work. Her tightly choreographed dance routine was mind-boggling at times, considering Monét’s voice and breath control. She and her two dancers (one of whom, Tacir Roberson, was celebrating a birthday), literally cut it up for her viral dance routine of the Trillville classic, “Some Cut.”
There’s no question that when it comes to the conversation of a “complete artist,” Monét must be uttered with some of the greats in not only R&B, but music in totality. Penning Grammy-nominated songs for the likes of Ariana Grande (“7 Rings”) and Chloe x Halle (“Do It”), it’s rare to find a modern artist who is equally adept in dance performance and she is in singing and songwriting.
Even with air-tight production, well-orchestrated set, and constant movement, Monét didn’t just rifle through her songs– she addressed the crowd multiple times throughout the night. At one point the audience on the right side of the stage started chanting “Move the plants!” following her weed anthem, “Smoke” (featuring Lucky Daye), because they were obstructing the view. Monét quickly obliged and her stagehands addressed the problem to emphatic cheers.
Playing a trio of some of her early favorites dating back to her 2018 EP series, Life After Love, Monét’s masterfully crafted set included “New Love” and “Freak,” as well as 2019’s collaboration with Ariana Grande, “Monopoly.” Following with the breezy and sensual West Coast tribute to her home state of California, “Coastin’,” the signature horns featured on many of Monét’s tracks bellowed on “We Might Even Be Falling In Love” as she introduced her dancers and band. After a resounding sing-along, she left the stage for an outfit change to complete her final stretch of songs, while the audience was treated to a instrumental interlude of Outkast’s “SpottieOttieDopaliscious,” appropriately transitioning into “Cadillac (A Pimp’s Anthem)” from Jaguar II.
Monét didn’t lose much momentum throughout her 20-song set, breaking out some of her best dance routines for the Kaytranada-produced dance track “Alright,” the Buju Banton-featured “Party Girls,” and the disco-tinged “Experience.” Following the title song to Jaguar, not one soul believed Monet was gonna end the night without performing her latest hit, “On My Mama.” After a brief break and the intense clamoring for the finale on this “school night” for many, Monét reemerged for her encore performance with her dancers donning baseball caps and baggy jeans as the crowd sang as loud as they had all night to the self-empowering chorus: “I look fly (yeah), I look good (good) / Touch my swag (swag), wish you could (could).”
It was an impressive outing for an unrivaled talent after several years in the background working with other esteemed artists. Monét finally gets to glow bright and showcase all facets of her abilities in what may have been the most remarkable debut headlining tour stop we have seen.
View this post on Instagram
“Ass Like That”
“Some Cut” (Trillville dance break)
“How Does It Make You Feel”
“Stop In The Name Of Love” (dance interlude)
“Spottie Ottie” (band interlude)
“Cadillac (A Pimp’s Anthem)”
“On My Mama”