The final installment of vitaminwater uncapped 2012 took place last night with in New York. Following an insane summer tour of seven cities and two college campuses, with lots of once-in-a-lifetime moments along the way (Big Boi and Little Dragon debuting their new collab at a skating rink in Austin, 2 Chainz throwing his arms around Passion Pit in Seattle, Kendrick Lamar recruiting a fan as hypeman in Portland), this year’s vitaminwater uncapped wound down with two of the most acclaimed and affecting singer/songwriters of the day, Frank Ocean and Bon Iver. An admiring crowd amassed early, vitaminwater hydrating the line outside as expectation simmered. “I am a happy person who loves sad music,” veteran uncapped host Miss Info declared inside, early in the evening. “So you know I’m in heaven tonight.” The venue, at least, could have been a gateway to such, the Lower East Side’s Angel Orensanz Foundation, a performance space housed in a gothic revival synagogue, glowing from the inside out like something out of a Bone Thugs video.
Attendees filed onto the main floor and into two balconies while Chris Baio of Vampire Weekend spun ambient big room grooves, reaching an apex of danceability with the Talking Heads’ “This Must Be The Place.” vitaminwater and Bushmills Irish Whiskey glasses were raised high while the unself-conscious warmed up with anxious two-steps. Then suddenly, there was Frank Ocean, coverboy handsome in his signature headband and dark tee, bandmates decked out in Men In Black lounge suits, opening with a sparse and soul baring “Love Crimes.” “That was the soft jazz version of “Love Crimes,”" he joked, before announcing he wouldn’t be adhering to a set list. From there it was, “Summer Remains,” a new-ish song he’s been playing live since the spring, Channel Orange’s “Sierra Leone,” and then, leading the first audible sing-along in “Thinkin Bout You.” By now he was taking audience suggestions for songs, jumping in and out of both Nostalgia, Ultra and Channel Orange. Checking his performance time with someone offstage, he turned back to the crowd to confirm, “We got 10 minutes left, so we should probably play Pyramids.” The trance he proceeded to unleash with “Pyramids” would only be broken by the thud of the microphone hitting the ground, when he dropped it, just before walking offstage.
In a show of solidarity with Ocean, or a simple nod to fitness, Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon appeared in a headband as well, backed by a small army of bandmates, their equipment stations filling parts of the stage previously unseen. It wasn’t long before Vernon had sweated his headband out through “Perth,” “Minnesota, WI,” and “Creature Fear,” for which he ratcheted up the song-end psychedelia. Vernon’s loudest sing-along too, came for his last single, the Grammy nominated “Holocene,” midway through his set. The biggest crowd reaction though, came for “Woods,” the haunting and heavily Auto-Tuned intro Vernon lent to Kanye West’s “Lost in the World.” By the time that song was through, fans had simmered back into themselves and were again able to process the nirvana of Bon Iver’s “Calgary” and “Beth/Rest.” “It’s nothing but a pleasure and an honor to have shared the stage with Mr. Frank Ocean,” Vernon declared before ending his set. At the time though, the stage was entirely his, and he was called back onto it after leaving for an encore of “The Wolves (Act I & II),” a song which hypnotized the crowd to the point that they continued singing, in unison, long after he’d left the stage the second time.