Solange @ Webster Hall

When: February 25th, 2013

Mathew & Tina Knowles must be some seriously proud parents.  Their first daughter, Beyonce, is one of the biggest superstars on the planet.  Her music has brought joy to countless people around the world.  I mean, who hasn't had a blast dancing to Single Ladies?  Not only is Beyonce a world class performer, she's a beast on the business side, working her tail off and empowering women with her success.  At the same time, she seems to be a genuinely warm spirit and loving mother.  Whether you like her music or not, it's tough to hate on Mrs. Carter.  Now, Beyonce's little sister, Solange, is charting her own course in music.  After reading her bio, there are big differences between her and B, but the core values are the same.  Solange is beautiful inside and out, values her independence, sings like a bird, is a fashion trendsetter, and calls her child the center of her universe.  Their mother and father, recently divorced, did one hell of a job.  Mathew Knowles is a music executive and Tina Knowles is a fashion designer.  Together they raised a pair of incredible women who fuse both of their talents.  They should seriously consider putting out a book on parenting.  Bravo. 

The first thing my wife and I noticed when we arrived at Webster Hall was how fashionable everyone was.  I know I'm getting a bit long in the tooth and I wouldn't ever claim to have my finger on the pulse of fashion, but I know enough to know that this was the most fashion forward crowd I've seen at a show this year.  Maybe ever.  From head to toe, folks were decked out.  I wished I had an actual camera to take shots of the crowd (buying one soon).  It was so impressive, we posted up near the light of the back bar just to see what people were wearing.  Solange models for Madewell and has become something of a trendsetter.  Clearly, most of her fans also know how to put a look together.  Me?  Not so much. 

When Solange took the stage we stayed put.  It was a sell out (2nd for Solange at WH in less than a week) and we weren't up for trying to pierce the swelling mass.  From the get go it was apparent the place was filled with adoring fans.  The first notes of her songs were greeted with boisterous cheers.  Every time she dipped while dancing, the place shouted approval.  The band joined in throughout the set, sliding back and forth like vintage Morris Day & The Time.  

It's unfair to compare her to her big sister, but impossible not to.  Where Beyonce is one big grand finale, Solange is a less is more performer.  First, her music has more space within it.  She's joined forces with UK producer Dev Hynes and their collaboration has birthed a sound influenced by 80s new wave and the sound of The S.O.S. Band.  As opposed to wowing you with power, she has an ear for melody and knows how to use a delicate hand.  The second big difference is in her style.  Beyonce loves wind machines, showing off her body, and shiny costuming.  Solange is super stylish, but much more modest.  Lastly, there's the performance itself.  Solange dances quite a bit, but nothing choreographed, except maybe the back and forth with the band.  She dances when she feels like it and her moves are what you might see an audience member doing when they start feeling a song.  

Overall, Solange's show was a great time.  She sounded spot on, her band was tight, and the crowd ate it up.  She'll be in bigger venues soon, so it was a treat to catch her in such an intimate spot. 

Solange's EP, "True", is below to check out.  She's also got a full length dropping this summer.  In 2012, she signed with the Brooklyn indie label, Terrible Records, who also have Grizzly Bear and Twin Shadow in their stable.  Why an indie label?  She was seeking more creative control.  Just look at the two videos below.  "Losing You" is her making the decisions.  "TONY" was a major label trying to package her.  This is clearly a strong woman determined to do things her own way.  Oh, and she's also a mom who walks her son to school everyday.  Damn, those Knowles' girls are something else.  

"Losing You"

"Lovefool" Snippet - Solange, Beyonce, & Kelly Rowland