Funk is a summer fruit: Blood Orange delivers short and sweet treat

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Ethan Epstein/Senior Staff

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Blood Orange frontman Dev Hynes is a tornado on stage. In one moment, he’s alone and vulnerable, filling the air with a delightful mix of piano notes and striking vocals. In the next, he’s sauntering across the stage with a white Stratocaster, expertly executing a complicated solo. Or maybe he’s dancing in the background with enthusiastic jazz hands. No matter where he is on stage, the audience is transfixed and loving every moment.

On Saturday night, Blood Orange delivered a funky and energetic concert to the delight of the Fox Theater attendees. With powerful basslines and high-energy dance moves, Blood Orange brings an unique R&B sound with electronic influences. The set list itself was an eclectic balance of songs that each brought something new to the table. But the success of the concert overall rests largely on the powerhouse performance given by Hynes.

Despite his multiple talents, Hynes remained humble throughout the entirety of the set. Even during his confident twirls across center stage and flawless guitar solos, Hynes would never fail to maintain a degree of modesty. While tuning up in between songs, Hynes shyly asked the audience questions and confessed that this was the biggest show he had ever performed in. This dichotomy between rockstar bravado and utter humility seems to echo his style as a vocalist, for he frequently oscillates between a spoken word style and a melodic tone in his upper range.

Similarly, he’s also able to share the spotlight — each member of the band and every backup vocalist received their own mini solo at some point during the concert. “Uncle ACE,” a song heavily reminiscent of classic disco tracks, featured a powerful sax solo that was followed in quick succession by an equally impressive bass fill.

One of Hynes’ backup singers even opened the show with a mashup that included Cher’s “Life After Love.” In “Best To You,” a song in which the three backup vocalists truly shine, Hynes is ever supportive on keys, and his face broke into a huge smile when they nailed some impressive harmonies in the second verse.

“E.V.P.,” one of Blood Orange’s more popular tracks, is a unique song that doesn’t stick to a typical format. Hynes begins in a deeper voice with a spoken word portion before breaking away from the mic stand to fall in step next to his backup singers. Intensity builds slowly through the verses and peaks in a jubilant chorus, featuring a four-part harmony with his backup singers. Then, the song is slowly stripped down and ends simply with the isolated vocals of Hynes and his backup singers as they all stand in individual spotlights.

Hynes ended the concert in the same way that he started it: on the keys, as the rest of the band filtered out quietly behind him — a surprisingly touching end to the set, contrasting heavily with the more upbeat vibes of Blood Orange’s repertoire.   

If there is one critique that can be leveled against Blood Orange, it is that the concert was unceremoniously brief. The show started at approximately 9:10 p.m. after an extremely brief one-song sampling from one of the backup singers. By 10:15 p.m., Blood Orange had cleared the stage. The audience, however, was not done — the Fox remained packed with undeterred fans,who attempted an encore for more than 20 minutes as they chanted in unison, “One more song!” The house lights remained off for the duration of the crowd’s efforts, giving an inkling of hope for a Blood Orange reprisal.  

But Hynes could not be swayed. The only people who walked on stage were the seemingly indifferent staff who were extremely preoccupied with tearing down the stage. Nevertheless, despite its abrupt ending, Blood Orange delivered with a concert that was jam-packed with funky riffs, electric beats and jazz hands. Nothing tops jazz hands.

Contact Sarah Alford at [email protected].
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