Blood Orange Delves Into Remembrance And Homage At The Greek Devonté Hynes "Negro Swan" Tour Pulls On Los Angeles' Heartstrings
LOS ANGELES, CA- Touring in support of his fourth studio album, Negro Swan took the stage at The Greek Theatre on September 18th. Featuring the singer-songwriter, dancer and composer Devonté Hynes, it was a night of powerful musical messages and a remarkable mix of artistry. Devonté stunned the crowd with his impeccable vocals and stunning range which sounded as clean as his recorded songs. Not only is Devonté a talented musician, as evidenced by his voice and prowess, when it came to instruments, he was a captivating stage presence. Watching Devonté dance and vogue on stage for the audience was a scene that stole the hearts of everyone in attendance.
Negro Swan is an album that is trademark Blood Orange. It oozes quiet storm and dream pop vibes, while preaching themes of love, sexuality, identity and hope. The album is filled with intriguing collaborations, some of which are amazingly fluid, and some which are a bit left-field, but the first listen will put you into a sonic, chillwave mood and keep you there until you are satisfied. But what keeps you listening … and keeps you engaged … are the messages which Dev sings in his hallmark falsetto.
His performance ranged from raw, slow and vulnerable, to upbeat, light and jazzy. In all, Devonté was a dazzling stage presence who enchanted the crowd from start to finish. It was remarkable to see such a strong, poised performer emphasize their vulnerability and their talent together.
Devonté, a performer who rarely- if ever- speaks at live shows, took an uncharacteristic moment that night to acknowledge how thankful he was for the audience members and his fans. He recalled the first time he played in LA and the small crowd that he drew during that performance. That night, he celebrated with the thousands who had come to see him perform his music.
Blood Orange’s performance was an emotional journey into remembrance and homage. His background singers paired seamlessly with his voice to make a melodic, transcendent sound. The crowd was particularly moved by his performance of the song “Desiree,” an ode to a late trans sex worker who spoke on her experiences with marital sex and the way it functions as a trade.
The song features a recording from before Desiree’s death in which she states that sex in marriage is largely the same as the sex work she engaged in, where wives trade sex for goods and services from their husbands. The song was a way to remember Desiree’s life that was cut short, and to demonstrate the pain, danger and hate that trans sex workers experience. The crowd hushed and listened intently to Desiree’s words, originally from the movie “Paris is Burning”, remaining attentive for the entire song. The experience was a display of warmth, care and remembrance that showed the power of collective reckoning through art.
Lastly, Devonté also played songs from his new album Negro Swan and from past albums like Freedom Sound (2016) and Cupid Deluxe (2013). My favorite album is Cupid Deluxe, so I was more than excited to hear him play my song “You’re Not Good Enough”
Devonte was humble when speaking to the crowd, while also passionately expressing his art when performing. Overall, this night was a combination of joy, sorrow, strength and talent. The artists performing demonstrated not only their notable music abilities but also showed their love for their communities and the fans that have supported them. This experience was one of a kind and demonstrated how art can touch a large group of people and move them to silence.