Blood Orange Shines at a Sold-Out Terminal 5 on SaturdayOctober 3rd, 2016
Blood Orange – Terminal 5 – October 1, 2016
This has been a crazy year. Even without big orange Donald’s presidential campaign, it’s been a year of new changes, challenges and protests. We’ll likely look back at 2016 and remember the artists who used their art to speak to our times, and Blood Orange will definitely be remembered as one of them. Before his performance at a sold-out Terminal 5 on Saturday night, the show began just as Blood Orange’s Freetown Sound does, with Ashlee Haze delivering powerful spoken words about discovering Missy Elliott: “If you ask me why representation is important/ I will tell you that on the days I don’t feel pretty/ I hear the sweet voice of Missy singing to me/ Pop that pop that, jiggle that fat/ Don’t stop, get it ’til your clothes get wet/ I will tell you that right now/ There are a million black girls just waiting/ To see someone who looks like them.”
So the show began. Haze’s powerful words bled into “Augustine,” with Blood Orange’s Dev Hynes dancing through the song in his flowing trench coat. The man’s a hell of a dancer. With a backdrop illuminating the shadow of his frame, Hynes’ moves filled the center stage for much of the show. Other artists take note: Dancing can add an incredible amount to a performance. And it was as versatile as needed to match Hynes’ musicality. In moments when he’d step aside to play piano or guitar, other dancers would fill the stage. At one point, Hynes sat at the piano for an incredible slowed-down rendition of the undeniably sexy “Champagne Coast,” made that much more sexier by the slow tempo bringing down the refrains “Come into my bedroom” to a cool burn.
Other songs demanded an obvious dance, the infectious groove of “EVP” leaving nobody in the building standing still. Hynes started it by bringing out a cello to play the yawning string part that kicks into the beat. Freetown Sound features some high-profile guest female vocalists, the singers filling in for them on Saturday gave all of them a run for their money. The two filling in for Empress Of on “Best to You” made for some gorgeous harmonizing. The show ended with Hynes shredding the guitar on “Bad Girls” and riffing through “Uncle ACE.” The latter was passed around for each band member to jam to, giving Blood Orange’s band members much deserved moments in the spotlight, something Hynes knows all about. So it was no coincidence that his show began with Ashlee Haze describing how important it was to her to find Missy Elliott beneath it. Let that light shine on.
—Dan Rickershauser | @D4nRicks