Solange Knowles has had quite the journey since her debut album, Solo Star, in 2003. It seemed like a constant uphill battle, trying to make a name for herself in the music industry outside of “Beyonce’s younger sister” over the last decade. Flash forward ten years later to her sold-out show at the infamous House of Blues on Sunset Blvd. in the heart of West Hollywood. Sweet redemption I can only imagine.
After waiting in the security line for a bit, I finally strolled down a small hill and enter the packed, hazy venue. I was pleasantly surprised to see the opening act, Jhene Aiko, had just started her short, but sweet set. No stranger to the grind herself, Jhene soared performing her modest, under-the-radar but stunning gems like, “Stranger,” “3:16AM” and, personal favorite, “In Love We Trust.” Before leaving the stage, Aiko treated us to a rousing cover of her “biggest inspiration” Tupac’s “Keep Ya Head Up.” Besides what seemed like a couple microphone volume issues, Aiko delivered R&B gold and really warmed us up for her headliner. Here’s hoping this will give Aiko the extra little push she deserves to help solidify her to up and comer status in the R&B game.
A short set clean up later, Solange casually strolled on stage with her band members and, without any introduction, dived headfirst into “Some Things Never Seem to F%#*ing Work.” Her vocals sounded more rich and fuller than ever. Continuing on with material from her latest release True, Solange tackled soul funk “Don’t Let Me Down” with ease.
Solange dipped into her discography a bit and gave new light to throwback track “T.O.N.Y.” then slowed it down with the Neptunes produced “Crush” from her debut. She did all this while displaying control and confidence not only vocally, but commanding the stage as if it were her overcrowded living room. Speaking of throwbacks, Solange pulled a fast one by using the dark, brooding “Lovers in the Parking Lot” (FAVORITE TRACK of mine) to segue into Selena’s “I Could Fall in Love” which the whole audience happened to know and sing along to.
In my humble opinion, Knowles’ strongest performance came with a solo version of “Cosmic Journey” and new standout track “Bad Girls.” Her beautiful falsetto glided over the latter through over five minutes of 80’s nostalgia with a beat sensual enough to make Prince blush. Her runs at the end truly amazed me; she sounded even better than on the record. Solange ended with her lead single off True, “Losing You” and told everyone to “lose their f-ing minds” on the buildup of the dance break, to which the crowd happily obliged.
After humbly thanking her fans, she disappeared briefly before coming back to close it out with her biggest hit to date, “Sandcastle Disco.” Solange’s carefree demeanor steered this one home.
What becomes quite apparent to me is there is certainly no lack of discipline with the Knowles clan. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing the growth and can’t help but feel proud for how far this artist has come. Many are quick to succumb to preconceived notions but even when shunned upon, it’s clear that with practice, gumption and patience you can still come out on top. Even if your sister was a famous superstar first.
Grab True and be the judge yourself, out now on Terrible Records.
– Submitted by Tristan Bolden, Music Design