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Last night at a sold out Webster Hall in Manhattan, Dev Hynes performed under his Blood Orange moniker promoting his sophomore album, Cupid Deluxe. The singer/songwriter/producer started off last year generating bangers like Everything Is Embarrassing for Sky Ferreira and Losing You for Solange before unveiling his own album in November.
As this early success was just cresting, Hynes unfortunately arrived home one day in December to find his apartment had been burned down in an electrical fire, losing everything including unfinished music projects and even his three-month old puppy, Cupid. Understandably, he decided not to embark on a full tour and is only playing few shows here and there. Despite all that, Blood Orange has retained enough inspiration to utterly stun the crowd last night with a flashy and dynamic performance.
The show opened up with R&B singer Ian Isiah whose presence and performance were eccentric, to say the least. From the moment he hit stage with his overtly sexual lyrics, provocative dances moves and going shirtless for most of the set, one could feel pangs of uncomfortable fun throughout the crowd. Musically, he wasn’t any sort of second coming, but he was extremely animated and most were thoroughly entertained by his allusions to Beyoncé lyrics and his twerking attempts.
Once Dev Hynes stepped on stage accompanied by Chairlift’s Caroline Polachek, the audience knew he was about to perform his critically lauded single, Chamakay. The duo killed it vocally, but it was Dev’s undulating yet snappy dancing that stole the show. Starting off with his single may have initially seemed difficult to top, but his set only continued to get better as he plowed through.
Blood Orange’s live version of Uncle Ace, which he introduced as “that dance song,” was extended so that he could shred it on guitar, and feature bass and sax solos as well. The most crowd-pleasing moment came during his last song, Time Will Tell, where, after kneeling to croon to some excited ladies in the front, Hynes got off stage to walk through the crowd to sing to the circle that formed around him.
The most striking part of Hynes’ overall presence was how generous and appreciative he was on stage towards his musicians as well as the audience. Unlike other artists, he does not have enough of an ego to make the performance all about him. His girlfriend, singer Samantha Urbani of Friends, was with him the entire time on stage and performed alongside him for many of the tracks. At certain points he would even stand towards the back to hang with his band and enjoy the music instead of constantly being the center of attention. His collaborative spirit translated to the crowd and in turn created a lively, communal atmosphere throughout the venue.
The conclusion of the performance left the audience wanting more, but Blood Orange did not come back for an encore. Regardless, fans knew they were lucky to be able to attend such a special performance. The entire audience was left satisfied knowing they had witnessed a unique display of musical intelligence and capabilities that sets Blood Orange apart.
Photos by Adela Loconte.