The folks at The Ally Coalition sure do know how to throw a party. The organization was founded by members of the band Fun. (Nate Ruess, Andrew Dost and Jack Antonoff) and designer Rachel Antonoff (Jack’s sister) to promote and encourage people in the entertainment, music and fashion industries to support and promote equality for the LGBTQ community. Last night’s event in NYC, the Ally Coalition Talent Show, brought out some of the most talented comedians, musicians and writers you could hope to see assembled on the same stage. Proceeds from the show went to benefit New Alternatives, which helps homeless LGBTQ youth.
Taking place on the Avenue Q set at the New World Stages, the show was dynamite from beginning to end. Comedian/actress Janeane Garofalo had the crowd in stitches with her rants about Trader Joe’s and millennial gluten issues, all the while rocking some knee-high Doc Martens.
The band Lucius came out in their signature matching outfits, and proceeded to blow the roof off the joint with their precise and enigmatic indie rock.
Lake Street Drive made quite an impression with their bluesy, minimalist, yet somehow incredibly rich, sound. Plus, who doesn’t love a girl who can slap that bass.
The show was packed with so much talent, it ran over three hours long. Comedians Wyatt Cenac, John Early, Jacqueline Novak and the cast of Avenue Q brought the funny, while Guster and Andrew McMahon (Jack’s Mannequin, Something Corporate) jammed out to some really fantastic tunes. Saeed Jones, editor of Buzfeed LGBT and an award winning poet, read some very powerful poetry. The main draws of the show, however, very much seemed to be Lena Dunham and Ingrid Michaelson.
Dunham, announced to the audience that she had been feeling pretty pissed off lately. “It’s frustrating to be an American right now,” she said, referencing injustices of Ferguson, rape on college campuses, and the fact that it took a male comedian to call out years of sexual assault allegations against Bill Cosby. However, the event and all of the support for the Ally Coalition made her feel hopeful. (Her boyfriend is Jack Antonoff, one of the event’s organizers.) She read a passage from her new book, Not That Kind of Girl, about her first cyber romance. When Lena introduced Ingrid Michaelson, she gushed that her music had been featured on Grey’s Anatomy. (Lena is apparently a fan of the show.)
Ingrid Michaelson played her hit single, “Girls Chase Boys,” and explained how she sought guidance about the song from good friend Kristin Russo, of the website Everyone is Gay. Michaelson was worried that the original version was too “heteronormative” and Russo’s suggestion to widen it up, changed the feel of the song entirely. Afterwards, she performed a solo, swoontastic version of “Can’t Help Falling in Love.”
The show ended with Bleachers performing an extended set, and then bringing out many of the evening’s performers to sing Fleetwood Mac‘s “Go Your Own Way.” Hopefully this talent show can become an annual event for the Ally Coalition, as it certainly did kick off the holiday season on a high note.
To learn more about the Ally Coalition, click here. To donate, volunteer, or learn more about New Alternatives, visit their site. NA is 99% volunteer run, and does not receive federal funding, so give if you can.