CHICAGO (AP) - Erykah Badu has been known to use a beat machine and a laptop during her performances, but on the last day of the Lollapalooza music festival, the Grammy-award winning singer blew a shiny whistle.
"Settle down, Lollapalooza, settle down!" she jokingly told the crowd at the top of her hour-long set Sunday in Chicago's Grant Park. "My name is Erykah Badu. Also known as Medulla Oblongata. Also known as Sarah Bellum. -- Settle down!"
The message set the mood for a slow-winding rendition of "The Healer" from "New Amerykah Part One (4th World War)," released in 2008. The heat had dried the muddy field after rain earlier in the day. And a much-needed breeze blew, cooling fans, some of whom tried shielding themselves from the sun with a T-shirt or towel.
Twenty-eight-year-old Kate Curry says she was impressed by Badu's band, which included the standard guitarists, as well as a flute player. Curry and her 8-year-old son, Alexander, left their home in Columbus, Ohio, early Friday morning, and drove six hours to see Los Amigos Invisibles, Arcade Fire, and, of course, Badu.
Earlier this year, the 39-year-old Badu caused a stir in her hometown when she appeared nude during a video shoot in downtown Dallas. This week, a golden Mohawk, and earrings that ran the length her jawbone summoned attention.
More than halfway through her performance, she stopped to tell a story.
When the kids at school were asked what they wanted to be when they grew up Badu said, "One little girl said 'I wanna be a doctor.' One little girl said, 'I wanna be mall security.' One girl said, "I just want my daddy to come home.'"
Badu recalled saying, "I just wanna be funky."
She then launched into an upbeat musical tale that began, "Annie ... don't wear no panties." The hooting and hollering keyed up, breaking the subdued vibe that had begun with a flute-inflected song from "New Amerykah Part Two (Return of the Ankh)," released earlier this year.
The screaming drowned out drumming from another band that had began playing across the field, giving Badu time to finish her last song.
"If you feel like I do, throw up your hands and say your own damn name," said Badu, before blowing kisses to the crowd as she left the stage.