Solange at The Independent. All photos taken by author.
Tuesday, Feb. 4, 2013
Better than: Sitting at home listening to early Janet Jackson records.
All the cool kids came out of hiding last night to hear Solange play the hits off her new EP, True. The Independent’s usual passive crowd was replaced with a bustling sold-out audience ready to clap, sing, and dance on the singer’s cue.
Opening artist Kelela modestly took the stage then surprise attacked the crowd with her soulful set of pipes. DJ Kingdom provided modern and simple beats while Kelela sang heart-wrenching harmonies. After a single song, Kelela requested the lights to be dimmed and continued to croon powerful lines like, “Now you want it back/But I’ll have the best of me.”
After her final song, Kelela humbly accepted the crowd’s applause and quickly plugged her mixtape, due out in April. Then Kelela admitted that she too was eager to see Solange perform and took a final bow.
Solange Knowles, who performs by her first name Solange, has been riding waves of Internet hype for the last few months. The video for her latest single, “Losing You,” saw lots of attention for its toe-tappin’ beat and drool-worthy apparel. Solange brought a talented band, kick-ass back up singers, soulful lyrics, and incredible charisma to the stage — which definitely drew a broad audience to her first show of the tour.
Her set included ballads embedded with deep bass lines and pop-funk numbers that were so catchy, they caused one man in the audience to use a bench as his personal dance floor.
The set of course included new hits like “Lovers In the Parking Lot” and the favored “Losing You.” The highlight of the night was hands down Solange’s cover of “I Could Fall In Love,” originally sung by the late Selena (here’s a previous performance by Solange). The combination of sexy Solange and Selena’s epic love song was almost too much for the audience to handle — people immediately whipped out their phones to record (yep, it’s already on YouTube) and/or just plain cried the lyrics along with her.
Truth: Solange flipped the bird during her set. But contrary to how it vulgar looks, this was a touching moment in her performance. Not because she made a New Year’s resolution in 2008 to use her middle finger more, but because she felt so free to express herself. Solange dances onstage, talks to the crowd, and smiles. Like, real smiles. It must be those Knowles genes.
Overheard: “Wait, does she have booty?” and “She sounds like Rihanna.”
Sibling Rivalry?: An opinionated member of the audience insisted that I make a comment on the whole Beyonce vs. Solange topic in my review. But, speaking from experience, I don’t think it’s fair to pin sisters against each other — especially ones as empowered as the Knowles sisters. There was an obvious presence of Beyonce fans and haters in the crowd. One guy, Brett, insisted that Beyonce had nothing on lil’ sis Solange because the elder is an “illuminati.” He claimed pop star Beyonce “sold her soul to the devil” and Solange is merely a humble servant to her fans and deserves her success because she’s working up the ladder one step at a time.Written for SF Weekly‘s music blog, All Shook Down on 2/6/2012.