A Twilight Zone, the chronicling of Salt Lake City denizens looking for music, adventure, & life at the Twilight Concert Series…
Another Thursday night in the late summer means another edition of the Twilight Concert Series. This week the curators of the series managed to book modern R&B hero, Solange. The attendance was dense and eager for the show. The tension built with the news that Solange’s flight was delayed. A quick check of her Instagram story showed her still on a plane from Texas at about 9:30 pm. It wasn’t clear when they landed of whether or not her band and crew were also delayed. At about 10:05 pm it was announced that Solange had arrived and would be starting soon.
The audience moved closer as the set began. The band took the stage first. All of the members were dressed in red. Their attire matched the background of the stage, which included a large red circle piece in the background that appeared three-dimensional when the stage lights created shadows. This monochromatic theme put the visual emphasis more on the musicians and their movements.
Enter Solange. The crowd goes wild as she displays her subtle finesse in both her dance moves and her opening vocalizations.
The entire set consisted of artistic coordinated dance moves that varied with each song. In one instance the group lined up from tallest to shortest and continued to move the song along with hip swings and a smooth 80’s funk style “keytar” bass line. The audio side of things was delightfully crisp with amalgamations of genres including funk, jazz, R&B, hip hop, soul, and disco.
The band kept the audio effects to the minimum and as a result, the audience got a transparent wave of warm sonic bliss. I could pick out any instrument and enjoy focusing on its subtle nuances. The drummer was especially precise and smooth as he moved back and forth between a drum machine sample pad and his acoustic kit.
If I had to sum up the performance in one phrase, I would say it was like a combination of Talking Heads’ Stop Making Sense and a killer episode of Soul Train. Solange, like many modern artists, draws heavily from artists of yesteryear. However, the influences do not cross over into simple reactionary territory. Her work makes me excited for the future of music in general. Give her a listen; her work is worth much more than just the novelty of being Beyonce’s sister.
As a music, theatre, and art lover, I have a special fondness of musicians who incorporate striking visuals and dramatic performances into their live shows. Solange is a prime example of this.
Everything was a bright and energetic red as Solange entered the stage to perform “Rise,” the first song off of her album A Seat at the Table. The song is simple and repetitive, which are words most artists don’t want associated with their songs, but in Solange’s case, the term “simple and repetitive” is a good thing. Her songs tend to be more poetic and intentionally repetitive to add to the meaning of the song itself, which is something not a lot of musicians can pull off elegantly.
Another thing that stood out to me about Solange was her soft and almost whispery vocals. However, while her voice may be soft, her lyrics are anything but. They’re powerful, political, and heartfelt. I rarely cry at concerts, but I’d be lying if I said I didn’t shed a few tears while listening to her perform “Cranes in the Sky,” with lyrics like: “I tried to drink it away, I tried to put one in the air, I tried to dance it away, I tried to change it with my hair.”
While professional photos weren’t permitted during Solange’s performance, the stage was quite a sight to see. The background was bright crimson with a reflective red circle in the center. Everyone, including the band, wore a red outfit, adding to the vibe of the show. While I’m not quite sure why the color was chosen, to me it felt powerful. It also certainly commanded the attention of the crowd.
Twilight. I don’t think I’ve ever wanted to leave that big of a concert unconcerned about missing the headliner, and yet, there I was.
I heard a lot of hype about KAYTRANADA and honestly, I couldn’t have cared less. Awesome, another hip-hop producer. As if the thousands living in their parents’ basement wasn’t enough, they decided to put this guy on stage. What’s he going to do? Spend 30 minutes making a track for someone not to rap over? I was there for Solange.
After the admittedly solid DJ Choice finished her set, everyone seemed to be ready to explode for KAYTRANADA. These are my peers, other K-UTE DJs who definitely have decent taste, so maybe I should hear this dude out.
When he came on stage it felt like a crowd formed immediately. We wiggled our way into the middle and proceeded to jam for the next three hours as KAYTRANADA stood at his laptop bobbing his head. While he might not have been the best stage performer I’ve ever seen, the music was something else.
I don’t quite know how to put my experience into words, but here’s my best shot: His beats connected with me on a primal level as if despite its synthetic nature this was somehow going back to the music of my ancient ancestors. His vibe and groove seemed to hypnotize me and rest of the crowd. I danced, screamed, and at one point raised my middle finger and said “I don’t give a fuck!” all at his command. Motion was effort less, and somewhere a deep feeling of content arose within me. I was putty in KAYTRANADA’s hands, my actions corresponding to the buttons on his keyboard.
Unfortunately, a Station Manager’s work is never done and when I finally broke away something had changed in me. As I packed up our booth and lugged it back to the van I felt sad, I couldn’t focus on the music, now it was just a background track. When I heard the rumor that Solange was coming, just very late, I didn’t care. I had already gotten what I needed from this Twilight, my legs are tired. I’ve been up since 7, let’s go home.
So there I was again, mingling amongst the Twilight crowd for the fourth time this year, not really knowing where to go at the moment or really if there was a where in which to go to. Suffice to say, perplexed‘. The crowd had grown massive in quantity of bodies compared to a few hours ago. Something about this concert. The mystique maybe? Solange‘s appeal? Either way, the first DJ, CHOiCE gave the crowd something to mingle and drink drinks and talk of probably hugely important affairs with one another. The rhythms were even throughout as if this DJ chose not to take choosy chances with more austere or different beats. Mostly it was the drums. Mostly, I felt as though I should wander over to the free food.
The free food being farther than I thought, I wandered blindly through the crowd (also known as the inevitable and incomparable smoke in my eyes and also I’m very short) until Kaytranada began his set. I watched from afar, eating pizza with a friend. This being the largest Twilight crowd so far (waiting with a stone’s patience for the delayed headliner) was a sight to see from far away. A mass of bodies, pushing out the parameters of fences and personal space to watch Kaytranada hover over his laptop. The visuals on the background movie theater screen were deftly impressive, moving from live action dancing to the swirl of incandescent warm colors in a kaleidoscopic swirl of a post-Y2K hypnotist. The Crowd (uppercased now in all its glory) felt strongly for Kaytranada, dancing, swaying, pulsing single hands attached to arms moving vertically in a calm frenzy of limber strength. An angel of a human next to me told me that this artist had played two of his favorite songs, “At All’ and “girl” which was produced for The Internet. People were blown away and the spirit of Twilight lived on.
Solange finally made her appearance after a few delays, bequeathing the stage and the crowd by dressing all in red with a lusciously red stage and accompanying dancers. She started slow and rose to a wonderful climax of music heard throughout the city. The noise ordinance was really disregarded for the best of reasons. Once again, after the music, after the sweat, and stress and noise and bumping into people, I had enough and awoke the next morning in this weird stupor.
Photos by Trevor Von Hake @trevorvonhake and Sarah Nelson @sarahnelson208