INDIO, Calif. – Whenever talking about Solange, the conversation inevitably steers to her superstar sister Beyonce.
It’s understandable, albeit a bit unfair. Beyonce, the teenage girl-group frontwoman turned pop queen of the universe, casts a mighty wide shadow — a shadow that stretched to the Gobi tent stage at Coachella, where Solange performed Saturday night. Beyonce’s kid sister has surely led a life of constant comparison, and Solange’s first album, 2003’s “Solo Star,” did follow in the sassy, pop-tinged R&B of the mega-selling Destiny’s Child.
It didn’t strike with listeners, nor did its underrated follow-up “Sol-Angel and the Hadley Street Dreams,” but the conversation changed with 2012’s seven-song EP “True.” Stuffed with shimmering ’80s-era R&B, funk and alt-pop, “True” provided the source material for Solange’s enchanting set Saturday night.
Dressed in an orange romper and blazer — her five-piece backing band all offered their own sartorial delights — Solange made her intentions clear early on.
“What I’d like to do is turn Coachella into grind-chella,” she said, before swaying her hips seductively as the band slowed things down. “Take it back to junior high school.”
As bodies moved slowly under the sparkle of the chandeliers hung throughout the tent, she dialed up the sex for “Bad Girls” and had to sternly admonish a cameraman from focusing on her crotch as she dug her feet into the stage and dipped up and down.
A highlight came when she turned Kate Bush‘s “Cloudbusting” into a minimal neo-soul stunner, and told the crowd she hoped her boyfriend would finally take the hint and buy her tickets to one of Bush’s upcoming London shows.
She also tackled Dirty Projectors’ “Stillness Is the Move,” as she often does during her live sets, over an arrangement of Erykah Badu’s Dr. Dre-sampling “Bag Lady” before moving into her sparkly hit “Sandcastle Disco.”
Solange closed with “Losing You,” a sticky mid-tempo dance-R&B gem that solidified her as a star in her own right. The Gobi tent became a bouncy singalong before she was joined by a special guest who had every fan reaching for their smartphones.
Beyonce, her face beaming with big-sister pride, joined Solange for a high-spirited routine as the tent erupted with delighted screams.