This past Thursday, in the bitter cold and slushy streets of New York City I made my way over to the locally famous Webster Hall to check out Blood Orange live in concert. Although the weather in NYC has been pretty shitty as of late, I was looking forward to this Blood Orange show. Blood Orange is Dev Hynes, a British singer, composer, producer, and songwriter who has been making a splash on the indie music scene with his barrage of pop, funk, and soul music. One thing that is for certain about Hynes is, he knows how to groove. I was interested to see how his retro synth 80’s sound would translate live, but I was pleased to see that it held up very well.
Hynes is big news in NYC these days. He was the man beyond Solange’s amazing EP, True, and this was Hynes first big show in New York since the release of Blood Orange’s second album Cupid Deluxe. Hynes was also the unfortunate victim of a major electrical fire in his East Village apartment. He lost everything. He lost unreleased music, clothes, his most adored possessions, and even his dog Cupid. Hynes needs music right now. It is what he does best and it will be what saves him as he moves forward past this recent tragedy that has affected his life. I could see the energy in Hynes throughout this performance. He loves New York City and it was clear by the fan reaction that New York City loves him. This show at Webster Hall, which has been sold out for quite some time, was one of seven performances that Blood Orange has scheduled for this year, with very few of those taking place in the US. One of those includes a stop at Coachella in April, but for New York City fans, this show was a treat to be a part of.
Hynes is definitely a different type of cat. He’s quiet, subdued, artistic, fashion forward, humble, but extremely gifted. He looks very New York, like he fits right in with the East Village clientele. He rocked a black leather coat and high waisted pants. His music is incredibly sexy and I can’t help but hear Prince in this dude. His sound and his band so much reminds me of a 2014 version of the Revolution and I absolutely love that because no one is making music like that right now…besides Solange, who happened to work closely with Hynes to derive her sound. The heavy synth sounds, scatted guitar riffs, blended vocals with Samantha Urbani, (who happens to be Hynes girlfriend) and break beats that are dominant on Blood Orange’s released work was on full display throughout this show. His band is incredibly tight. They had me dancing in my little section near the bar for the entire show. Hynes and Urbani have a clear connection on stage and played well off of one another vocally all night. The duo shined on “You’re Not Good Enough,” “It Is What It Is,” and “Always Let You Down.” Hynes even rocks the guitar like Prince. Although he doesn’t possess that same skills as the artist formally known as, he can rips that guitar with authority and looks more comfortable on stage when holding his axe. You can tell that Hynes is inspired by all types of music ranging from rap, to metal, to classical. His sax player blessed the crowd with some pretty amazing solos, and Queens rapper Despot got the crowd open on his verse from “Clipped On.”
Hynes is a star in the making. He is still relatively unknown and appearances like this one and his upcoming performance at Coachella will do nothing but make his notoriety grow larger. But he completely owned this show. His fingers were on all every aspect of this concert and he had the crowd mesmerized with every move that he made. He has an uncanny amount of sex appeal for a quieter dude. He is not a poster boy like Justin Timberlake or Usher, but his lyrics completely take your mind to another place. Although he is a respected songwriter, (Hynes has written for Florence and the Machine, Sky Ferrera, and solange) it is now Hynes time to shine on stage as a legitimate artist. If the Webster Hall show was any indication of where Hynes is headed, it’s nothing but green pastures in the forecast. Musically, Dev Hynes is a force to be reckoned and I look forward to seeing what tricks he has stuck up his sleeve next.
Chamakay, You’re Never Good Enough, Bad Girls, Clipped On, It Is What It Is, Always Let You Down, Chosen, Sutphin Boulevard, No Right Thing, Uncle Ace, Time Will Tell