Blood Orange, Kelela, Kelsey Lu, King, Solange

Solange at the Hollywood Bowl, August 24th, 2017

Sep 26, 2017 Bookmark and Share


Solange at the Hollywood Bowl.  How do you discuss a show that was so uniformly breathtaking without sounding boring? If everything is the most brilliant, most breathtaking, and damn-near most perfect thing you’ve seen, doesn’t that just mean that nothing is really all that special? Umm…no. We have Solange’s show at the Hollywood Bowl last Sunday to thank for that.

Curated by the singer in celebration of last year’s Don’t Touch My Hair, the evening unrolled like a mini festival, with six artists in total taking the stage. Unfortunately, this meant that ambient R&B cellist Kelsey Lu and Los Angeles’ Moses Sumney were given very little stage time to show off considerable talents that saw both artists blowing out the sides of the R&B paradigm to include ambient cello loops (Lu) and percussive loops and an undeniably powerful voice (Sumney). (Understandable, given the time constraints, but I for one welcome the day that Solange gets her own festival.) 

The next two artists on the bill, King and Kelela were both given almost double the stage time as the first acts. King’s Grammy nominated debut contains what might be some of the most forward-thinking production of the year, layers and layers of sound evoking what some have called a new twist on Cocteau Twins’ wall of sound. Meanwhile Kelela was faced with the uphill battle of commanding the huge Hollywood Bowl stage alone, a task that many seasoned performers have failed at. However, the Washington DC-based artist’s natural charisma and ambitious production choices (Dubstep! Pop! Jazzy vocals! Electronic beats!) made it a truly compelling set. Somewhere, Stevie Wonder is bursting with pride on all accounts.

A few years ago, Under the Radar writer Stephen Humphries had this to say about Blood Oranges’ Dev Hynes: “If the Grammy Awards were bold enough to grant Blood Orange a televised performance spot, he'd steal the entire show.” Not much has changed since the singer/songwriter’s Cupid Deluxe song cycle. Hynes still exudes the kind of cool so casual it’s almost easy to miss his accomplishments as a live performer. (Scrawled in my notebook “nonchalant shredding.”) The fact he ceded much of the vocal work in the set to backup singers only highlighted his quiet power as both a musician and performer. In a move that brought down the house, he welcomed Empress’ of’s Lorely Rodriguez to perform Freetown Sound highlight, “Best to You.”

Of course the real focal point of the evening was Solange. A strong performer, she’s more than earned the right to be mentioned sans reference to Big Sister Knowles. Even the set design, featuring an epic white staircase and her band, full of dancing brass players, couldn’t distract from the star power. For the vocalist, music is social cometary, a change to push back against the social climate in all its many injustices. (And given the current administration, their number is legion.) While she got the audience up for the disco-kissed “Losing You” (with an assist from Dev Hynes who returned to the stage to casually play bass on a handful of songs he co-authored) the highlights were topical. Singing “FUBU” (“For Us By Us”) while weaving through the crowd singing directly into the faces of adoring fans. Taking a knee during “Don’t Touch My Hair,” in support of NFL players who were threatened with loss of a job for the same action. Simply being the kind of strong woman who can perform without apologies—or even much stage banter. By the time Solange (and the majority of performers who performed before her) danced and performed their final bows of the evening the whole audience felt not just won-over but straight-up converted.

Solange Setlist:

1. Rise

2. Weary

3. Cranes in the Sky

4. Don’t You Wait

5. Some Things Never Seem to Fucking Work

6. Mad

7. F.U.B.U.

8. Lovers in the Parking Lot

9. Borderline (An Ode to Self Care)

10. Crush

11. Don’t Let Me Down

12. Bad Girls (Verdine Version)

13. Losing You

14. Don’t touch My Hair

(www.solangemusic.com)

(www.facebook.com/solange)




Comments

Submit your comment

Name Required

Email Required, will not be published

URL

Remember my personal information
Notify me of follow-up comments?

Please enter the word you see in the image below:

Mark Vorst
October 11th 2017
6:21am

I love Solange’s almost eccentric music style and the fact she didn’t try and compete with her sister’s pop style. The result? Some electrifying concert performances. I don’t think you can attend a Solange concert and not be mesmerized. I’ve gone for eight so far and every one of them leaves me thrilled for days.