Lorde, Bleachers, The National & more performed at the Ally Coalition Talent Show (pics, video, recap)
LGBTQ-equality organization The Ally Coalition held their fourth annual Talent Show at Town Hall on Wednesday (1/24) night. The Grammy week show featured nominees The National and Lorde, as well as Britt Daniel and Alex Fischel of Spoon, Shamir, Kacey Musgraves, Andrew Dost (fun., Anathallo), comedians Aparna Nancherla, Jacqueline Novak, Phoebe Robinson, and Mike Birbiglia, and Jack Antonoff of Bleachers, an Ally Coalition founder, who curated the lineup and performed. His sister and fellow founder, Rachel Antonoff, served as host, and announced that this year's event raised $193,000, money that will go towards supporting homeless and at-risk LGBTQ youth.
After opening remarks from Jack and Rachel, Kacey Musgraves started off the night by performing two new songs, "Butterflies" and "Rainbow," from her anticipated new album that she said is coming "soonish." Kacey described "Rainbow," a song she wrote five years ago but hasn't released yet, as her grandmother's favorite; it's set to close her upcoming album. Kacey concluded her set with "Follow Your Arrow," saying, "I'm an ally for fucking life." Aparna Nancherla followed Kacey with a comedy set where she namedropped Cardi B and riffed on social awkwardness and politics. Next, Shamir played two songs of his 2017 album Revelations, "Straight Boy" and "'90s Kids." "I have a lot of songs about LGBT issues because I'm a part of that alphabet," he said.
Jacqueline Novak did her bit about the ethics of stealing French fries off someone else's plate (which she also did at the Aparna Nancherla-hosted Whiplash at The Bell House last weekend). After her, Britt Daniel and Alex Fischel of Spoon played a couple of songs: a cover of Plastic Ono Band's "Isolation" and "Rainy Taxi" off their own 2014 album They Want My Soul. Mike Birbiglia followed with a set focusing on the challenges of fertility, especially when it involves having to masturbate into a cup at a doctor's office. Andrew Dost came out next to play a couple of covers, Harry Nilsson's "Turn On Your Radio" and Judee Sill's "Waterfall," along with an untitled song from a new project. Phoebe Robinson of 2 Dope Queens followed with own slightly raunchy comedy set, and after her, The National performed three songs. Matt Berninger was joined by Aaron and Bryce Dessner and two horn players for a slightly abbreviated version of the band, and they played "Carin at the Liquor Store" and "I Need My Girl" before going back to 2007's Boxer for "Fake Empire." "Weirdly," Matt remarked before starting the song, "it feels less fake and more disgusting lately."
Lorde appeared at last year's Talent Show, and she returned for a second year to sing with frequent collaborator Jack Antonoff. Sitting together on a piano bench, they started with "Writer In The Dark" before unveiling a cover of what they called one of their personal favorite songs, Carly Rae Jepsen's "Run Away With Me." Lorde commented on how nice the audience was, which prompted a heckler to interject, "in Israel it's nice," referring to Lorde's cancellation of a Tel Aviv show set for June after pressure both for and against. Jack quickly came to her defense, telling the heckler, "we're here raising a shit ton of money - fuck that negativity," and Lorde herself said, "I have no doubt the Israeli people are very beautiful and I can't wait to meet them one day." After that uncomfortable moment, the night's only real sour note, Lorde and Jack played "Green Light," prompting the crowd to take over singing the choruses and ending with a standing ovation. Their set concluded with another cover, Roy Orbison's "You Got It."
Bleachers started their set with a cover as well, paying tribute to Dolores O'Riordan with a cover of The Cranberries' "Dreams." They followed that with a second cover, of ELO's "When I Was a Boy," before playing two of their own songs, "I Wanna Get Better" and "Alfie's Song (Not So Typical Love Song)." After that, all that was left was the finale, where Bleachers were joined by Kacey, Shamir, Aparna, Jacqueline, Mike, and Phoebe for a cover of Fleetwood Mac's "Go Your Own Way," a talent show tradition they insisted had nothing to do with MusicCares Person of the Year Gala at Radio City Music Hall on Friday (1/26) where Fleetwood Mac will be honored (and Lorde will also perform).
Watch video clips of Wednesday night's show below, including many of the covers, and find pictures in the gallery above.