Monday, February 25th, 2013
Solange at The Danforth Music Hall in Toronto
Frank YangSolange may have initially garnered attention thanks to her surname, but her recent ascension to the forefront of what’s being regarded as a new wave of R&B artists has been almost entirely on the back of her own talent; well, hers and Dev Hynes’. The Lightspeed Champion/Blood Orange producer-songwriter was my gateway drug to the work of Ms. Knowles; obviously, I knew who she was, but I suspect like more than few filling the Danforth Music Hall on Friday night for Solange’s Toronto debut, it wasn’t until her adoption by the indie nation with her EP True that I actually paid attention. Which is kind of funny, because as this show was proof of, she’s actually kind of impossible to ignore.
A full three hours after doors opened, she strode onstage in a dazzling dress and magnificent afro “Some Things Never Seem to Fucking Work”, a sentiment clearly not directed at her band. The six-piece outfit, including two backup singers, were super-tight and struck the right balance between organic feel and synthetic texture to recreate True‘s smooth, throwback feel. It’s a vibe that fits Solange’s vocals and persona perfectly – a modest yet wholly confident blend of gorgeous and glamorous that was only as showy as it needed to be to impress. The whole show was slickly presented and immaculately choreographed without projecting any artificialness. In return, the audience responded with a degree of adoration that one would have expected for her big sister, conveyed through huge cheers and lots of happily un-self-conscious dancing. Good times were being had.
Some complaints about the sound were justified – while Solange’s vocals largely managed to rise above the mix, bass-heavy mix, Hynes’ suit was frustratingly often louder than his guitar – but the move from the much-smaller Hoxton to the Danforth was probably a good one, offering a classier setting and allowing more revelers while still feeling intimate. By the time the main set neared it’s conclusion and Solange’s invitation to “dance like there’s no tomorrow” for “Losing You” was more than enthusiastically accepted, it felt like you were in the closing prom scene of a high school rom-com, meant in the very best possible way. The band didn’t even bother leaving the stage before the encore, but Knowles still pulled off a bit of a surprise by inviting local internet dancing sensation Phil Villeneuve onstage to join her for “Sandcastle Disco”, having been brought to her attention for his interpretation of “Losing You” at the Bay-Bloor intersection. A wonderful, uniquely Toronto touch to a wrap a joyous show that ran just under an hour, but left nothing feeling wanting. It confirmed Solange as a talent that no matter who her family is, exists in no one’s shadow but radiates her own light.
And any Solange fans who haven’t yet heard Coastal Grooves by Blood Orange – aka Dev Hynes – you really gotta. It’s not just in your wheelhouse, it IS your wheelhouse.
Photos: Solange @ The Danforth Music Hall – February 22, 2013″
Video: Solange – “Losing You”
Video: Solange – “T.O.N.Y.”
Video: Solange – “Sandcastle Disco”
Video: Solange – “I Decided”
Video: Solange – “Feelin’ You”
Stream: Youth Lagoon / Wondrous Bughouse
You can now stream a new Okkervil River song, taken from Reasons To Believe, the new tribute album to Tim Hardin, out today. Hardin and Okkervil have a long-standing connection, of course, the former’s “Black Sheep Boy” providing the inspiration for Okkervil’s best album cycle so far.