If you have any doubts about Blood Orange’s Negro Swan ending up on your year-end list, you clearly missed the tour behind the album. When Dev Hynes dropped his fourth album under the Blood Orange moniker last month, it was met with high praise and comparisons to Blonde and Testing. For such a dark album, it resonated with a sense of hope, but none compared to what Hynes and his band brought to their stop at the Greek Theatre.
When Hynes walked onstage in total darkness, it was immediately clear that this night wasn’t about the frontman (magnificent as he may be), or even a band – it was about the music that had brought everyone together in the first place. For such a pointed album, Negro Swan’s live show was a fully inclusive experience. Hynes made sure that each of his bandmates had their moment in the spotlight, at times in awe of the performance each delivered to the full crowd. Tei Shei took center stage for “Hope” and supremely underrated show opener Empress Of joined Hynes and crew for a purely enjoyable rendition of “Best to You.” Even when Hynes was on lead behind the mic, he covered every inch of the stage, giving unspoken props to the band and sashaying his way from piano to guitar and back again.
Complete with a thick layer of soul and a consistent thread of funk weaved throughout the set, Blood Orange managed to deliver an overarching message with an air of euphoria despite the heaviness that encompasses Negro Swan. With every bit of darkness, there’s a hint of light, and sometimes all it takes is a strong support system and a little fancy footwork to let it through.