Live: Bon Iver and Frank Ocean Are Trying to Break Your Heart

Categories: Live

Geordie Wood
Bon Iver rocking that Frank Ocean look.

Better Than: Seeing either of these guys in a festival setting, which seems to be the only way you're going to these days.

Last night Fader magazine and Vitamin Water's collaborative Uncapped tour series hosted their grand finale at the Lower East Side's Angel Orensanz Center. The performers were billed as "surprise guests," though rumors flew leading up to the door's opening at 8 p.m. Some reported that Bon Iver would stop by after his recent run of Radio City Music Hall shows. Others buzzed that Frank Ocean would be making an appearance after his stint at ATP. In the end, the surprise was much bigger than we thought: Frank Ocean and Bon Iver would be playing together.

For the couple of hundred lanyard-slinging media and RSVP-savvy concertgoers who got in, the scene that greeted them couldn't have been more fitting for the artists about to take the stage. The Angel Orensanz Center, now a contemporary arts community space, was built as a 19th-century synagogue, complete with looming Gothic arches and three-tiered balconies. Bathed behind tufts of smoke and a faint blue-and-red glow, a stool stood in front of a microphone stand suggested that the show would provide the kind of intimacy that fans have come to expect from both of the night's headliners.

There's no denying that Frank Ocean and Bon Iver's Justin Vernon share certain lovey aesthetics; both are singer/songwriters beneath their fronts, both evoke pit-of-your-stomach sadness set against happy nostalgia, both find solace in the peculiar pairing of heartbroken, story-telling R&B and the washed-out pulses of alt-rock. Both have been recruited onto projects by Kanye. (No, Kanye did not make the appearance that many of us had hoped he would.) Bon Iver won the Grammy for Best New Artist last year, and Frank Ocean is a frontrunner this year. Last night, both artists wore headbands -- it worked better for one than the other.

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