In 2012, I was driving around a rental car with satellite radio. Every time one song ended, I inched to the edge of my seat—hoping, praying that I could again hear this one indelible R&B pop jam. It took me back to the days of trying to record radio songs to cassette. I just wanted to hear that song so damn bad and then put it on repeat. I crossed my fingers that every next song would be the one.
Waiting and waiting, I just needed to hear it's sampled yowl and danceable nod to '80s electronics—a beat that could've easily been obnoxious if it weren't so perfectly crafted and paired with the luxuriously smooth vocals and lovelorn message from Ms. Solange Knowles. When I couldn't handle waiting anymore, I drove to a record store to buy it. I needed the physical copy. Turns out, the EP that "Losing You" was destined to be on was not released yet. But I did find a used copy of Sol-Angel and the Hadley St. Dreams and into Solange fandom I went.
Between True and Sol-Angel, I was sucked into the pop-soul-R&B-electronica of Solange. I couldn't wait to catch her for the first time at Coachella in 2014, a year where older sis Beyoncé dropped by to dance alongside her lil' sib.
When it was all about pop, Solange knew how to set a mood and bust a groove. So when she dropped the socially conscious and immediately impactful A Seat at the Table in 2016, I knew Solange would bring something special to Portland as one of the top-billed acts at this year's flawlessly curated Soul'd Out Music Festival. Her sold-out slot at the Schnitzer was actually the first time she'd performed her current choreographed production.
And it had it all. Bathed in apocalyptic red for just about the entire show, the sonics and visuals made for a mashup of Kubrick with Robert Palmer, where nine musicians and singers were also dancers bringing '60s souls vibes alongside modern-day moves and Solange's message.
Feeling all the feels, she made a statement with "Don't Touch My Hair," made us dance to her pop jam "Losing You," and laid it out bluntly on her hip-hop banger "F.U.B.U." where she slowly sang: "All my niggas in the whole wide world / Made this song to make it all y'all's turn / For us, this shit is for us."
A Solange show could've just been a stage full of nine super sexy, super talented folks immaculately moving in unison—at times Solange even reminded of MJ. But remember that mood? She set it with the lights and her body movements and her moments of storytelling where she revealed her creative process with an openness and transparency. Upon announcing that she'd been working on this configuration for a while now and this was their first performance, she asked the audience to "bare with our kinks."
We were already hanging on every moment and movement, even the hiccups. Because life is not without its flaws and we all just want to experience the art and presence of a honest human being—an individual who delicately toes the line of being one who we can connect with as well as aspire to be—on stage. CY