Blood Orange brings his intimate R&B pop indoors | Concert Preview | Chicago Reader

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Blood Orange brings his intimate R&B pop indoors

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UPDATE: as of Thursday, March 12, 2020 at 2 PM this concert has been postponed, with the new date to be determined in the future. Refunds available at point of purchase.


Dev Hynes, who makes pop and R&B as Blood Orange, has a gift for synthesis that’s made him a favorite collaborator of many cross-genre stars in the past decade, including Mac Miller, Solange, and FKA Twigs. The London-born, New York-based auteur has visited Chicago multiple times in recent years, notably appearing at the Pitchfork festival in 2018 and opening for Florence & the Machine at Northerly Island the following summer, but while Hynes and his ensemble sound great in sunlit venues, a theater might suit the intimacy of his music better. Blood Orange unites decades of Black pop styles with airy vocals and lyrics about longing and identity, with both the house-adjacent dance beat of “Baby Florence (Figure)” and the dark, Three 6 Mafia-indebted thump of “Gold Teeth.” If the most recent Blood Orange release, 2019’s Angel’s Pulse (Domino), feels slight compared to its predecessors, it’s by design: Hynes described it as a “mixtape” composed as an epilogue to 2018’s lushly arranged Negro Swan, named one of the best albums of that year by Pitchfork, Spin, Complex, and others. The songs on Angel’s Pulse sometimes stop abruptly or build around a single instrumental loop—they’re closer to sketches, unlike previous fully realized opuses, but the image is still clear and ready to be colored in by the live band. On “Dark & Handsome” Hynes sings over warm keys and snapping drums: “Nothing lasts forever and I told you / Everything you need to know that’s not true.” Even when he’s trying to end a relationship, Hynes can’t hide his yearning for more connection. It’s music for dancing in the dark, in a loved one’s bedroom, or in the timeless space of a century-old theater.   v

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