By Michael Muth, Contributing Writer
She descends from the stage’s upper right corner, commanding attention with every sultry and confident step. The wall of sound continues to swell and build as she floats to her position with her weapon of choice in hand — a sleek handheld microphone. The stage, dominated by two pyramids on either side and a massive inflatable sphere in the center, took in the performer’s aura, and the audience followed. Before even a single note exited the performer’s lips, the whole theater was up in applause and cheering. Every individual was prepared to take in every song, interlude, dance break, and lighting change of the performer, and she was more than ready to put on a show for the one year anniversary of her critically acclaimed album A Seat at the Table.
She is Solange, and on October 2 and October 3, she turned Radio City Music Hall into a place of twerking, a place of celebration, and a place of therapy for herself and every single audience member.
Solange’s A Seat at the Table is the artist’s third full-length studio album, but it transcends far beyond an album. She channels frustrations, joys, and memories to create a musical diary that is as intimate as it is intellectually thought-provoking. One of her most well-recognized songs from the album, “Cranes in the Sky”, was originally started eight years ago and it took her all this time to properly channel her emotions in the song. Other notable songs from the album include the sonic-tidal-wave: “Don’t Touch My Hair” and the haunting track that holds nostalgic 80s undertones, “Don’t Wish Me Well”. Listening to the album from start to finish is a spiritual journey in itself, but Solange enters a new dimension of “wokeness” when given the ability to perform her work live, and Radio City Music Hall patrons were the most recent travelers on this ethereal journey.
The opening acts included The Sun Ra Arkestra, Chassol, and Earl Sweatshirt. They all deserve an honorable mention for their diverse music portfolios, yet each individual act contributed to the all-encompassing style of Solange. Upon Solange’s arrival on stage, everything seemed to fall in place. With refined harmonies, natural choreography, and energy as abundant as the love that filled the hall, not a single aspect of the show was subpar. Every single member of her band and backing vocalists fell into beautiful synchronicity through the power of the music and how it resonates with each individual. Solange has successfully and gracefully leapt from the title of musician to a complete visionary. After her effortless yet calculated set, ending with a dynamic and cleansing rendition of “Don’t Touch My Hair”, Solo (one of Solange’s adorable nicknames) retreated off stage while her bassist credited her as creative director and choreographer of the entire show.
Intricate details and carefully thought out decisions comprised every second of the concert, but Solange’s connection with the audience is easily the most intriguing part of her performance. Right from the beginning, Solange established a relationship with the concert-goers. She didn’t want to sing to them, but she wanted to sing with them. And that is what Radio City Music Hall became for the nights of October 2 and October 3: Solange’s socially aware, twerking choir.