Better Than: Her True EP after its been dunked in glitter and pixie dust and all kinds of other special, pretty things.
Solange sold out not one but two weeknight shows at Webster Hall in a matter of minutes, so I should’ve been less surprised about the fact that the place was absolutely bursting at the seams with avid, know-all-the-songs-front-to-back fans who tried (and succeeded, despite the no-room-at-all thing) to bust out the “Losing You” moves along with her. Knowles’ stage presence is something to behold, in that the girl can shift effortlessly between swaggering, haughty choreography to the imploring lyrics of her most sensitive ballads. She also isn’t afraid to vamp on a dance break a few more measures than usual, and the result gave way to a room full of elated people noise-drunk on the confections of her beats.
The second-most consistent thing throughout the set (first being her vocal delivery, which never faltered, even on the above-her-comfort-zone belt-y parts of “T.O.N.Y”) was Knowles’ want–no, need–for people to drop the pretense and dance their faces off. “Turn the lights on, I wanna see their faces!” was a request met with jubilant applause as Knowles and company shimmied, shook and step in unison to “Locked in Closets.” Given her propensity for matching the emotional equality of her music with movement (even when she’s rocking a three-piece suit and heels as she did last night), she never had to ask twice.
Critical Bias: I’m not nearly as up on my Solange as I should be and I plan to amend that immediately. I’ve got True and “Losing You” has been knocking around in my head since the EP dropped, but the live rendition of the song last night was nothing short of spectacular, a truly perfect iteration of an inventive, beautifully bitter love song. The set list was equally spliced between True‘s track list, 2010’s Sol-Angel and the Hadley Street Dreams and a smattering of singles, and I must’ve been the only person in the room who wasn’t belting every word back at a beaming Solange. Her cover of Selena’s “I Could Fall In Love” was especially lovely and a perfect palate cleanser mid-set. Basically, the 11 songs she played could’ve easily stretched into 20 and nobody would’ve minded — even the newer fans like myself who weren’t around for her “corn rows and Rasta hat” days that she poked fun at before “Cosmic Journey.”
Overheard: “You’ve been makin’ my night all night!” Some dude was dancing like a man possessed with his friends in the middle of the floor and would occasionally wave his white baseball cap around in a fit of ecstasy. Solange pointed him out and thanked him, beaming, for enjoying himself so much throughout the course of the set. That kind of appreciation makes me all mushy in my feelings place, and this adoration of her fans and their boundless enthusiasm for both her old and new stuff served as a beautiful back-and-forth that kept her soaring and her fans flying high alongside her.
Also Overheard: This was an actual drunk conversation that I was stuck next to for approximately 8 minutes: “YOU SAID I WAS A FAT-ASS.” “No! I said you were a BAD-ass!” “NO YOU SAID FAT-ASS” “WHATEVER BAD-ASS” etc. etc. It continued until about 30 seconds into the first song before they both whipped out their phones and proceeded to watch the show through the screens. Anybody interested in a rock show etiiquette guide? Because I kind of wanted to write one just for the sake of these two.
Random Notebook Dump: “AWKWARD IPAD IS AWKWARD.” I thought we all agreed that taking pictures with your goddamn iPad was a pastime best left in 2012, but no — a guy up front didn’t get the memo, and spent the entirety of the encore with his iPad raised in the air and the camera wasn’t even pointed at the stage. Maybe he was FaceTiming with someone so that they could be there for “Sandcastle Disco.” I don’t know. Please don’t let this become a thing, universe, because if people start broadcasting shows like this, it’s only a matter of time before nobody goes to concerts anymore and we turn into the soft, orb-like people like the sad people who couldn’t get out of his chair in Wall-E.