Bilal at the Starline Social Club
18 February 2019
What was supposed to be a lazy Sunday in the Bay Area turned into excitement as I got a last-minute invitation to attend my first-ever Bilal solo show at Starline Social Club, an old Victorian converted into a restaurant/bar/performance venue in Oakland, CA, with a unique look and homey feel!
We got to Oakland around 8:00, but the sound check was still in progress so we waited outside for over an hour in the ever-extending line until we were finally let in from the cold and rain. Thank goodness we were early enough so that I could secure a spot to the front left of the stage! A DJ played old-school joints that had everyone grooving, allowing us to forget we were freezing outside just moments earlier. A lovely local - Bay Astu - was the opener. She was soulful and delightful, with a large presence and big voice that contrasted with her tiny frame.
Excitement swelled as people continued to file into to the sold-out show, and Bilal brushed right by us as he finally took the stage around 10:30! He started off in a heavy, ethnic-print overcoat that was quickly removed as he (and we) started to heat up!
The man has a presence! I don’t know his catalogue well enough to name every song, but you could feel the passion for his craft with every move; every expression. The crowd was in a frenzy!
When he got to Soul Sista, everyone sang along! There was so much joy in the room!
He blessed us with his presence for about an hour and a half, and breezed off the stage with the same bravado as he took the stage!
I will definitely check him out the next time he’s here! And if he comes to your area, so should you!