Solange, Danforth Music Hall, February 22
Photo: courtesy of Frank Yang/Chromewaves
1. Solange: the next R&B torchbearer
As she works to position herself as a leader in the New Wave of R&B, it’s only fitting that Solange’s look (the patterned dresses and the tuft of hair that frames her soft facial features) channels that of her musical forebears, most notably Erykah Badu. But Solange sets herself apart with a commercially minded sound that elegantly ushers classic R&B into the era of the digital native.
2. A perfectly conceptualized Selena cover
Though she might be a newcomer to many, Solange is a seasoned performer. As such, when it came to choosing a cover, the young Knowles negotiated the perfect balance between obscure and recognizable: Selena’s “I Could Fall In Love.” The hit single by the tragically murdered Latin star not only struck the perfect mid-set emotional chord, it also played slyly into the musical wheelhouse of her audience (who likely recognized the track from the 1997 Jenifer Lopez-starring biopic).
3. The transformation of Dev Hynes into Nile Rodgers
While Solange is the face, the voice, and the marketing vehicle, former Test Icicles/Lightspeed Champion star and current Blood Orange frontman Dev Hynes is the conductor of the star’s musical freight train. Coming on like an indie-disco version of super-producer Nile Rodgers, Hynes’ louder-than-bombs suit and natural swagger gave Solange the confidence to own the stage. In a live setting, his responsibilities are multiplied threefold, guiding vocal lines while at times holding the band together as they occasionally fumbled the intermixing of prerecorded and live instrumentation. Not that anyone would have noticed amid all the dancing, mind you.
4. Local dance sensation Phil Villeneuve hitting the stage for “Sandcastle Disco”
Phil Villeneuve has been dancing his way into the hearts of musically conscious Torontonians for years, and it appears he’s becoming something of an icon in the industry as well. After she caught his kinetic interpretation of “Losing You” at the corner of Bay and Bloor, Solange invited Villeneuve onstage for a bouncy dance duet to her tune “Sandcastle Disco.” The crowd predictably followed suit.
5. “Losing You” heralding the birth of a new musical sensation
“Dance like there’s no tomorrow!” Solange demanded as Hynes and the band broke into the unmistakable groove of her breakout single “Losing You.” And the sold-out Danforth Music Hall crowd obeyed, turning the already burning dancefloor into a blitz of raised hands and sweaty bodies. At the centre of it all stood Solange, transcending her little-sister stigma with an unabashedly joyous smile. —Jonathan Dekel