The Ally Coalition Talent Show brought their holiday festivities to Webster Hall for the third year in a row. Sponsored by Bleachers’ Jack and Rachel Antonoff in coordination with New Alternatives’ for Youth, an organization that specifically deals with LGBT homelessness, an epidemic which is especially errant during these cold months. The show revolved around several performers doing mini-sets of about two to three songs acoustically, backed by members of Bleachers and Fun. Musicians and comedians were both featured, some hitting their mark more than others.
Carly Rae Jepsen
With her iconic third record “E•MO•TION,” and its companion of unreleased tracks “Side B” released earlier this year, Carly Rae Jepsen enlisted a bevy of collaborators from Blood Orange to Rostam, where she showed her true chops as a mature performer with infectious pop sensibilities. For her set, she played two tracks solo from the record, “Your Type” and “Run Away With Me” as well as, “Shadow” with Jack Antonoff. Even though it was only a snippet, Jepsen’s persona and passion shone brightly through, even bantering with the crowd when asked to play “Store” aka “that ridiculous song” that was written actually for a Canadian anti-smoking commercial.
In a post-T*ump election era, it seems like a little laughter can help ease the pain just slightly. As one of the brightest correspondents on The Daily Show with Trevor Noah, Minhaj’s political insight and sheer wit came with some of the most apt observations of the evening. While not LGBT, Minhaj voiced his allyship for the movement as being intertwined with many of the issues he faces as a person of color, least of all under this fascist regime. With his cool, direct delivery, Minhaj made the much larger Grand Ballroom stage into an intimate comedy club where he frequently performs.
With his main group Fun. currently on hiatus, Jack Antonoff’s been busy, as well as, bandmate Andrew Dost who founded The Ally Coalition with many other endeavors. From appearing in the Sally Field movie “Hello, My Name Is Doris,” HBO’s “Girls,” and especially his musical group Bleachers with their massive debut record “Strange Desire.” The singer made appearances throughout the night, even opening the show with a cover of The National’s “Bloodbuzz Ohio.” His main set, consisted of bigger singles like “I Wanna Get Better” and “Rollercoaster,” making the most of a truncated set time.
Long before her disparaging comments about Odell Beckham Jr, “Girls” star Lena Dunham has been terminally embarrassing, and a bastion of white feminist ideology. What didn’t really help her performance was reading a prayer(?) off her phone in which she asks for protection from the higher powers that be or whatever enlightened hippie pseudo-spirituality, which just felt as vapid and hollow as your freshman year art school roommate who discovered shrooms last week, while telling you about how eye-opening Fight Club is and decalcifying your pineal gland.
Despite what she may say about it, Charli XCX’s 2014 record “Sucker” was an incredibly well-done and carefully crafted record. Charli began her set with an acoustic version of her latest track “After the Afterparty” which features Lil Yachty, which immediately didn’t seem like a solid choice to start her set off with. Her “devil may care” persona and all-around blase stage presence made her seem painfully nonchalant, until she played her major hit “Boom Clap,” a more fitting tune for the arrangement with Jack Antonoff.
Chvrches singer Lauren Mayberry’s distinctive voice usually is found cutting through the immense synths, guitars, and drums of her bandmates Iain Cook and Martin Doherty. For her more stripped down set with only a backing acoustic guitar player, she performed a cover of Joni Mitchell’s “A Case of You,” where her piercing mezzo-soprano shone as brightly at Webster Hall as it did performing to a sold-out crowd at Radio City Music Hall. Even performing Katy Perry’s anthem “Firework” which, Mayberry admits to flubbing at karaoke, she put through the impressive vocal energy that seems impeccable for just doing a simple covers set.
With “special guests” being promoted on an already stacked bill of incredible performers, not many people would have expected the New Zealand pop wunderkind Ella Yellich-O’Connor aka Lorde to make her first on-stage appearance since 2014 to be at a holiday themed LGBT homelessness charity event. Performing a cover of Robyn’s lesser known single “Hang With Me,” Lorde’s usual goth looks were replaced for a more subdued holiday attire in a modest red turtleneck and little makeup. With Lorde seated beside Jack Antonoff from Bleachers at the piano, the vibe felt more akin to an intimate TV holiday special from the 60s than the usual massive venues the two performers are used to.
A Fleetwood Mac Cover By All Your Faves
Nothing would have closed out this LGBT homelessness benefit more than basically all of the performers (with Lena Dunham nowhere in sight) to sing the classic “Go Your Own Way” by Fleetwood Mac. With Jack Antonoff on lead vocals, Lauren Mayberry took the second verse with Carly Rae Jepsen, and Lorde with Charli XCX commanding the harmonies. Even as a seated show, the crowd were on their feet for this final hurrah as the seemingly never-ending refrain brought the Webster Hall audience out of their seats.a
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