Blood Orange at the Lincoln Theater, a review

Blood Orange at the Lincoln Theater, a review

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It's 8:23 pm on September 13th, and I arrived early enough to the Historic Lincoln Theater on U St to secure a last-minute ticket for a performance by Blood Orange. Two hours prior, I just happened to look at my Instagram stories and found out the good news. Serendipitously, I leapt to my feet and got in gear to witness for myself the performance of an album I've been gushing about over the last few months.

 Blood Orange,  Freetown Sound  

Blood Orange, Freetown Sound 

But as I sat there, I couldn't help to feel like many of the people in the theater had no idea what's about to happen. I in fact had a mild idea what to expect as I watched a performance of theirs via Tidal Hifi Live a few weeks prior: TIDAL X: Blood Orange https://tidal.com/video/64323721

 Lady in waiting, Lincoln Theater DC

Lady in waiting, Lincoln Theater DC

According to genius.com, "Blood Orange is the funk/R&B project of musician Dev Hynes, formally known under the pseudonym Lightspeed Champion. Blood Orange’s music is characterized by funky grooves mixed with falsetto vocals and catchy melodies. He also uses complex and introspective lyrics, which are often misinterpreted."

Blood Orange, Augustine via YouTube  

If you spend a little time digging through the lyrics of this album, you will quickly realize that this is, in fact, not only a "black power/black lives matter" album, but it is also an album of empowerment and self-love, even regardless of race and/or sexual orientation. But why then are so few people of color at this show? This was the question I asked myself after a night I'll never forget.

 Devonté Hynes via the  Red Bull Music Academy

Devonté Hynes via the Red Bull Music Academy

On this night, I felt every emotion I encountered when I first really gave Freetown Sound a serious listen. Dev Hynes has managed to blend today's social unease with an almost throwback musicality that can be likened to Prince and even PM Dawn. There is something about the way he melds the tones of his voice with those that accompany his on this album. Combined with his impeccable instrumentation, for me, the product is precisely hypnotizing. The picture he paints is fresh yet familiar. Freetown Sound was the album that I needed at this very moment in time. On stage he seamlessly manages to sing, dance and play 3 different musical instruments amidst a backdrop of synchronized lighting, supporting vocalists, a band and a host background dancers.

 Via  my Instagram   

After the show, I found myself in conversation with another attendee (a non-POC), who was quick to remind me that Dev Hynes is actually from the UK. As if this negates the experience of a black man in the world at large, he continued to speak on the previous album and how it was much more relatable. This lack of understanding is a partial answer to the question I posed earlier. I am more than pleased that I am just now discovering Dev Hynes and Blood Orange. Maybe I wouldn't have appreciated his musicality before. I might have bypassed his quirkiness and propensity to dance and act out with his body--in the way the music makes him feel--as an act or show. It was liberating for me to watch an artist this comfortable expressing themselves regardless of others' perception.

 Via genius.com

Via genius.com

At this point in my life, I can now relate to all of this. And while my favorite song on this album changes everyday, the intention and thoughtfulness of each and every moment in the live performance and the album continues to leave me speechless. For nearly two hours, I was in Devonté Hynes' world. I sang, I danced, I wiped away tears and I didn't want it to end.

 Via genius.com

Via genius.com

For me, this is the album of the year--so far. If you haven't already, give it a listen and let me know what you think in the comments below