Solange: Soul sister the face of grace and skill

Solange at The Hive during 35 Denton, Saturday, March 9. Photo by David Minton

Solange at The Hive during 35 Denton, Saturday, March 9. Photo by David Minton

After a frantic re-shuffling of Saturday talent lineups at 35 Denton, it was decided: Solange would perform in the safety of the Hive.

And after all the mixed reviews of the automotive storage warehouse-turned rave space, the Hive redeemed itself by being both cavernous and dry. For the second year in a row, the skies opened over 35 Denton, this time with that familiar Texas fury.

If only the acoustics were suited for the PA systems of acts on the level of the Cannabinoids, Killer Mike and Solange. Unfortunately, the bass sounds distorted severely, drowning out some of Solange’s more subtle and impressive vocals of the evening.

But enough bitching.

The capacity crowd at the Hive got restless when the clock passed 9:30 p.m. — the reported reset go-time from the original plan of 8 p.m. When the clock said 10 p.m., a chant of “SO-LANGE! SO-LANGE! SO-LANGE!” had started. And a glut of restless media wonks were flooding Twitter.com with antsy and contradictory reports about what the bar venues planned to do. (Would they hold their shows until Solange finished? Or would they start on schedule?) As it turned out, venues made their own decisions. Sweetwater Grill & Tavern was at capacity and started it’s showcase on time. Andy’s Bar and others decided to wait for more patrons to show up.

A few minutes after 10 p.m., Solange emerged to a screaming horde and the groove fired up. The very picture of cool, Solange grinned and danced. After the first two songs, she greeted the crowd.

“It’s been a challenging day for everyone,” she said. “We only have about half of our instruments up here with us tonight, but I didn’t want you guys to wait any longer than you already had, so please bear with us.”

Solange at The Hive during 35 Denton, Saturday, March 9 Denton. Photo by David Minton.

Solange at The Hive during 35 Denton, Saturday, March 9 Denton. Photo by David Minton.

And we did bear with her. Or totally forgave the inconvenience this charismatic artist soothed us with. Solange really is kind of fabulous, with chops for days and the trademark Knowles megawatt grin (we hate to bring up any mention of big sister Beyonce, because Solange is an artist in her own right, with her own appeal and a streak of indie style and adventure that makes her perfect for a Denton audience. But the resemblance to big sister Bey is there in style and allure, and we’ll leave it at that.)

Solange engaged her audience, asking security to let the fans move closer to the stage (they didn’t), and making sure to announce her allegiance to her home state of Texas. She performed tracks from her 2012 release, True. “Don’t Let Me Down” and “Lovers in the Parking Lot” were steamy, neo-soul grooves. “Some Things Never Seem to F—–g Work” was a poppy reference to Madonna’s “Cherish” and her standout single “Losing You” transcended the recording’s energy.

Solange has expert control of her voice. And while American audiences are conditioned to crave and expect the vocal athletics of Christina Aguilera and Usher, Solange showed a more refined approached to music. Our beloved R&B singers belt and yell and get us hot and bothered. Like a jazz clarinetist, Solange crooned and whispered through tricky little runs, all club cool and subtle. She can belt, but she needn’t. Her cover of Selena’s “I Could Fall in Love” was original and powerful, and an unexpected treat.

It was a longer wait than expected to experience Solange on Saturday. And in the end, worth every minute.

– Lucinda Breeding

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