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Solange LIVE at The Guggenheim!

May 20, 2017
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sologuggPhoto: Krisanne Johnson/Red Bull Content Pool

Post by New York Correspondent Charles Moschos

On a steamy day this past Thursday on the Upper East Side in New York City’s Guggenheim museum, nearly 1000 lucky patrons were able to witness a true artistic achievement.

A performance that not only felt very much of the moment, but also perfectly tinged for today’s racial and political American climate.
Solange’s album “A Seat At The Table” to me represented her arrival, someone who was demanding to be taken seriously, as an artist, a performer, a woman, an African-American.
Needless to say, if you know who Solange is, you know who her older sister is.  Beyoncé sits at the head of the table, as an artist, performer, goddess, etc.
But what Solange has accomplished, is to pave her own lane, refusing to be boxed in while staying under the radar enough to not lose her cool.
Her first adult album “Sol-Angel and The Hadley Street Dreams”, was enjoyable, and had all the right names in terms of A-list producers and features, yet it somehow failed to stand out in the R&B post Neo-Soul world.
Her next offering, “True”, a shorter more concise effort, was on taste makers lips and garnered her artistic applause.
To say no one was expecting this latest album from Solange would be un-precise, but timing is everything, and if big sister Beyoncé made the best album of last year in “Lemonade”, Solange made the album that seems to best represent the cultural response needed to last year.  While Beyonce seemed to let us in more than ever and the songs on “Lemonade” were more hurtful, personal and powerful than usual, there was still a separation and a performance aspect to a woman whose life, and statuesque quality seem almost too perfect.  Solange on the other hand seemed to bleed and sweat through this album, from the interludes with her mother, and Master P, whose story she said reminded her of her father, to the lyrics, the listening experience was truly raw and emotional.
Which brings us back to Thursday, where she perfectly manifested the albums artistic qualities in a setting that seemed tailor-made for her to express herself.  The circular rotunda of the Guggenheim was lined with guests, all wearing white, including the ground floor where everyone sat Indian style.
The afternoon show started at 3pm, and most fans waited patiently mingling as if at a gallery opening until just before 4pm when museum staff started clearing a path for the performers to be able and make their way from the top down.
The band entered first on the ground floor, taking up their instruments and playing an eerie bass and Rhodes piano note that seemed to signal the start of something serious.
And sure enough around a dozen dancers in white, two back up singers in caramel, and Solange also in a caramel monochromatic outfit started making their way down in a line from the top.
It was a powerful entrance, and Solange who was in the middle of the pack coming down stood out immediately with her stature, hair and height.  She was noticeably taller than the back up singers and dancers.  All wearing no shoes.
When they arrived on the ground floor they flowed into simultaneous dance routines before starting the opening song, “Rise”.
The dancing as a whole was very Alvin Ailey-esque, and seemed to blur the lines between retro and modern.  High praise for boldly executing the originality and authenticity of the vision set forth. Especially since Solange herself designed, choreographed, and controlled every aspect of the performance.
At first people were in awe, and Solange seemed to revel in the energy, ferocious and animated in her actions, even as they were tempered at times by the choreography.
It should be noted that phones/cameras were not allowed in the museum, and were checked in at the door. This was managed well, and contributed to the intimacy and energy in the space.
By the time she got into the stand out track of the album “Cranes In The Sky”, it almost felt like the culmination of her performance only three songs in.
Needless to say by that point everyone started to loosen up and sing along, which allowed the performance to feel even more interactive and experimental.
From there the band seemed to hit a groove on the bass heavy “Mad”, which features Lil Wayne on the album version and states “you’ve got the right to be mad”, the live version literally screamed and let out a palpable social angst.
Continuing on that emotional wave Solange got into “F.U.B.U”, and waded through the crowd as she sang the lyrics, stopping and connecting individually with a few fans.  All while a 15 piece horn section appeared out of nowhere filing 3 levels of the rotunda behind the band, disappearing and reappearing throughout the song.  It’s effect, beyond musical, really brought in the buildings Frank Lloyd Wright designed space as part of the set.
The show finished with a flurry of dance moves, all of the shows performers taking part, and ended with Solange finally smiling, and exhaling. Taking it all in for herself and enjoying the moment.
Nobody’s little sister, she was the star of the show.


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