Solange & the Hadley St. Dreams

SXSW showcase reviews

Live Shots
Photo by Aubrey Edwards

Solange & the Hadley St. Dreams

Bat Bar at the Austin Convention Center, Friday, March 20

Blame it on the lights, camera, action. For an artist desperately trying to shed a legacy of pop polish, the made-for-TV Bat Bar in the Austin Convention Center isn't the best venue. Yet there stood Solange Knowles and her Hadley St. Dreams under the bright lights, crane cameras, and cued applause, every touch of quirk perfectly placed, from the young diva's ear-to-ear orange eyeshadow to the neon-pink pinstripes of the backup band. The Supremes-style backup singers seemed more in line with Dreamgirls (didn't think you'd escape an obligatory big sis Beyonce reference, did you?) than the genuine article. Motown-inspired pop from sophomore album Sol-Angel and the Hadley St. Dreams dominated the set, including radio-ready hits "I Decided," "Would've Been the One," "T.O.N.Y.," and "6 O'Clock Blues." Knowles boarded the mother ship on "Cosmic Journey" but never reached the stoned celestial heights of fellow Texan Erykah Badu. None of this is to say she lacks talent, but she's still searching for her voice. On this night she found it in a delightfully unexpected place: a slow-blunted, sexy-as-all-hell cover of Devin the Dude's "Doobie Ashtray," where the band fell into a sticky groove and Solange toasted to a "Champagne Chronic Nightcap." Turn down the lights, camera, action, and she might be on to something.

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