Photo of Estelle courtesy Atlantic Records
Before last night, the extent of what I knew about Solange Knowles was limited to what I read about her on Dlisted (the celebrity blogger likes to make up stories about how her diva sister Beyonce keeps Solange locked away in the basement) and the crazy-ass outfits I see her going out in public with thanks to GoFugYourself. So, not a good look.
That's why I'm so grateful that I got to see homegirl rock the shit out of a thin but passionate crowd last night at the VooDoo Lounge. (Side note: "voodoo" is one of those words that looks more like it's spelled wrong the more you think about it.) There were rows of chairs set up on what shoulda been a dance floor -- Danny the bartender and I puzzled over it together until he went on a recon mission and found out that the tour manager wanted it that way -- and the balcony upstairs was closed. Little word got out that Estelle -- a Grammy-nominated singer, hello -- and Solange were in town, I think.
Solange gets onstage, accompanied by two shimmying backup singers in terrible, bow-at-the-crotch black cocktail dresses, and I'm expecting fashion a la Tina Turner in Mad Max:
Instead we get a totally sane, sparkly, short wrap dress. (No photos allowed, but I'm sure someone snuck a few in that will end up on the web shortly.)
Her band is four skinny white dudes in suits and skinny black ties, doing rhythm guitar and funk jacked from Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings. She did her own songs, like "Would Have Been the One," "So Be It," and blended them with covers -- "LoveFool
" by the Cardigans, "Electric Feel
" by MGMT. But the show-stopper, for me, was when she did a slow, soul-singah version of Devin the Dude's "Doobie Ashtray
." I almost fell out. Kind of like Solange did at the airport recently.
HAHAHA okay sorry.
Estelle comes out after a short break, and again, I'm expecting serious wardrobe shenanigans. But she's wearing black jeans and a navy shirt, turquoise eyeshadow and a tight pincurl of hair swept to the side. She looked normal. And charming, especially when she chatted up the crowd in her London accent that makes everything more profound.
She opened with the will.i.am
-produced "Wait a Minute (Just a Touch)," which sounds so classic that I just searched everywhere to figure out if it's a cover and I'm still convinced it is. YEP
! Other songs had a reggae feel, which is the perfect vibe for super-chill Estelle, who vogued with the microphone but otherwise showed off few dance moves. Everyone was waiting for her single, the hit she did with Kanye West, "American Boy," but she saved that for the end.
Know what she didn
't save for the end? An encore. (It would have been "So Much Out the Way," according to the notes the lighting guys had.) Seconds after the last notes of "American Boy," Estelle was on the bus. I let two fanatical girls borrow my useless "press" sticker to beg their way backstage and watched them get rebuffed by no less than three different VooDoo staffers. One told them that Estelle had cancelled her meet-and-greet. Maybe she was soured by the small crowd? Maybe she had a headache? All I know is, given more time, Solange might have showed her up -- just a touch. Estelle's Set List:
Just A Touch
No Substitute Love
More Than Friends
In the Rain
American Boy/Show Me/StarEncore
Estelle says suck it! But with an English accent, so it's cute.