SXSW Music Live: Solange

Soft, vulnerable, and in control

When her big sister sat down with her in January for Interview magazine, Solange Knowles explained her soft, clear tonality on recent Grammy winner A Seat at the Table. “It was very intentional that I sang as a woman who was very in control, a woman who could have this conversation without yelling and screaming,” she told Beyoncé.

Photo by David Brendan Hall

“Because I still often feel that when black women try to have these conversations, we’re not portrayed as in control, emotionally intact women capable of having the hard conversations without losing that control.”

Even in the chaos of Wednesday night’s SXSW showcase at Copper Tank, Solange translated the album’s aesthetic into a measured but powerful performance.

Solange and her sixpiece band, plus two backup singers, took the stage decked in baby blue. After the smooth R&B warmup of “Rise” and “Weary,” first two tracks on A Seat at the Table, the drums snapped “Cranes in the Sky” to life. Solange’s pristine and agile soprano led her backups through entrancing Motown girl-group falsetto harmonies, punctuated by a petite brass section that filled in around the vocal play toward the end.

Photo by David Brendan Hall

Heavy on A Seat at the Table material, the precisely 60-minute set offered up a few singles from her sparse, decadelong recording career. “Some Things Never Seem to Fucking Work” pulsed an Eighties-style bassline as Solange and her singers danced in tandem, and the R&B-inspired “T.O.N.Y.,” from 2008’s Sol-Angel and the Hadley St. Dreams, spotlighted Solange’s vocal flourishes.

Even as she boogied with increasing abandon on A Seat at the Table’s “Don’t Touch My Hair,” Solange kept her softness and vulnerability. And control.

A note to readers: Bold and uncensored, The Austin Chronicle has been Austin’s independent news source for almost 40 years, expressing the community’s political and environmental concerns and supporting its active cultural scene. Now more than ever, we need your support to continue supplying Austin with independent, free press. If real news is important to you, please consider making a donation of $5, $10 or whatever you can afford, to help keep our journalism on stands.

Support the Chronicle  

Spoon's <i>Hot Thoughts</i> Remodels the Locals' Art-Funk
Spoon's Hot Thoughts Remodels the Locals' Art-Funk
Britt Daniel and Jim Eno talk about the rise of R&B in the band's sound

Tim Stegall, June 2, 2017

Playback – SXSW Recap: Love, Hate, Garth & Trump
Playback – SXSW Recap: Love, Hate, Garth & Trump
Final love / hate SXSW listicles

Kevin Curtin, March 24, 2017

More by Abby Johnston
Crucial Concerts for the Coming Week
Crucial Concerts for the Coming Week
Nine Mile Records, Glasshealer, Vincent Neil Emerson, Hayes Carll, Luna Luna, Pink Sweat$, and more

Dec. 10, 2021

Crucial Concerts for the Coming Week
Crucial Concerts for the Coming Week
Swallow the Sun, Benny the Butcher, Every Time I Die, Buck Meek, and more recommended shows

Nov. 19, 2021


SXSW, SXSW Music 2017, Solange, Beyoncé

One click gets you all the newsletters listed below

Breaking news, arts coverage, and daily events

Can't keep up with happenings around town? We can help.

Austin's queerest news and events

Eric Goodman's Austin FC column, other soccer news

Behind the scenes at The Austin Chronicle

Information is power. Support the free press, so we can support Austin.   Support the Chronicle