On Monday night the 3rd Annual Ally Coalition Talent Show, a benefit for homeless LGBTQ youth that is the brainchild of musician Jack Antonoff, was hosted at Webster Hall. The show featured an impressive array of performers, including Lena Dunham, Antonoff’s band Bleachers, Carly Rae Jepsen, Charli XCX, Lauren Mayberry of Chvrches, Andrew Dost of Fun., comedians Jordan Carlos, Hasan Minhaj, and more. There was also a surprise appearance by Lorde.
There’s a lot of doom and gloom hanging over certain circles of the music and art scene these days, thanks to a certain orange-hued man getting trounced in an election yet somehow winning anyway, and this pervaded the entire show. Dunham devoted her time on stage to running the audience through a new age-y self-help call and response piece, adding that she hadn’t put this much effort into an outfit since November 8th. Antonoff expressed a newfound appreciation of the current president by wearing a few dozen Obama pins and opening the show with a cover of “Bloodbuzz Ohio” by The National, who performed at many Obama rallies.
Dost performed a cutting song called “Young Republicans” which he described as apropos considering that “times are getting pretty dark.” The Daily Show’s Hasan Minhaj, a Muslim American, spent his entire set discussing his anxiety about the President-elect (“being at a Trump rally is like being at a haunted house with the lights on”), and de facto host Jordan Carlos unveiled a spot-on “black Trump” impersonation. Only the artists hailing from other countries (Charli XCX, Jepsen, Lorde, Mayberry) kept their performances apolitical.
Unlike some other benefit shows, the cause remained mostly offstage here, although Mayberry did reference the topic via a cover of Katy Perry’s “Firework”, a kind of LGBTQ anthem even though the subject is not being directly addressed in the lyrics.
The night featured several standout performances offering brief escapes from the current political climate. Jepsen provided this with a stellar, sax-laden performance of Em*o*tion standout “Run Away With Me.” Charli XCX delivered an acoustic version of her hit “Boom Clap,” which proved to be a terrific song even with all of the studio pyrotechnics stripped away.
Mayberry evoked a period of political unrest in America with a plaintive cover of Joni Mitchell’s “A Case of You.” Lorde stunned the crowd with an emotionally charged version of Robyn’s “Hang With Me.” And to close out the show, the entire crew of performers gathered together onstage for a charmingly shambling yet rousing cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Go Your Own Way.”
The current state of affairs in America has ushered in a pervasive pessimism about the future of the country, but as has historically been the case—and if these performances are any indication—it just might end up being a pretty great era for art.
The benefit raised more than $100K which will be put towards combatting LGBTQ inequality in the U.S.