There is a heavenly light in New York’s Bowery Ballroom at two in the afternoon. Being that it’s a nighttime place, few would know it, but the sun just pours in all day long through a wide, arched, south-facing window. It’s at this bright, odd hour that Solange Knowles, as sunny and ethereal as her name would suggest, arrives to rehearse for her second performance in a sold-out run of shows this past December. Dressed smartly in a flounced tunic, a pair of pumpkin-colored trousers and T-strap heels, she looks as if she could just as easily be heading to a job interview, and her hair, the only unruly detail in this otherwise business-chic look, forms a broad, hazy black halo around her delicate features.
It’s for the untamed elements in Solange’s personal style—that, and the fact that she deigns to pal around with the Brooklyn bohemia—that the media often pegs her as the “free-spirited” (or more damning, “hipster”) younger sister to the astronomically famous Beyoncé. The simple exercise of compare and contrast that’s typical to any set of siblings is extrapolated and hyperbolized, or, as Solange succinctly puts it in her leaked, 2008 single, “Fuck the Industry (Signed Sincerely),” I will never be picture perfect Beyoncé...but everything I’m not makes me everything I am. The tabloids are just another place she happens to find herself, no thanks to her god-given name, but something in her focus before the show tells you that the place she most desperately wants to be judged is here, onstage.