Lorde Covers Carly Rae Jepsen, Battles a Heckler at Ally Coalition Charity Show

Zak Kaczmarek/Getty Images for ARIA

Lorde presents Peking Duck with the ARIA for Song of The Year during the 31st Annual ARIA Awards 2017 at The Star on Nov. 28, 2017 in Sydney.

The fourth annual Ally Coalition charity event, a star-studded talent show thrown by Jack Antonoff and hosted by his sister, designer Rachel Antonoff, was Grammy Week’s most relaxed affair thus far, save for about three minutes during the night’s main event.

At the halfway point of Lorde’s four-song set on Wednesday night (Jan. 24), after she had finished unveiling a haunting piano-version cover of Carly Rae Jepsen’s “Run Away With Me,” the New Zealand native remarked how nice the crowd was at New York’s Town Hall. “In Israel, they’re nice too!” a faceless audience member shot back, a reference to the singer’s controversial recent cancellation of a concert in the country. The heckle resulted in a chorus of boos and caused Jack Antonoff, who was sharing a piano bench with Lorde to accompany the set, to immediately stand up and defend his friend.

The moment of anger -- followed by a round of applause, a pause in which the duo tried to laugh off the unexpected critique, and Lorde eventually promising that she loved the people of Israel and expected to perform for them someday -- halted, but didn’t deflate, the evening’s message of inclusion. The event, which raises awareness and funds for homeless and at-risk LGBTQ youth, was a rollicking two-hour-plus showcase featuring music stars palling around with comedians and casually performing stripped-down versions of hits, covers and new material. 

Lorde’s magnetic “Run Away With Me” was the whip-out-your-phone-this-might-go-viral moment of the night, but Antonoff and his Bleachers cohorts also admirably covered the Cranberries' "Dreams," Spoon sunk into John Lennon’s “Isolation,” and Antonoff’s Fun. co-member Andrew Dost trotted out his piano version of Judee Sill’s “Waterfall.” Although she helped to start the evening, Kacey Musgraves’ warmth lingered onstage long after she had finished playing a pair of new songs, “Butterflies” and “Rainbow,” from her upcoming album.

“I’m an ally for f---ing life. I don’t care what anybody says,” Musgraves declared between songs. Antonoff announced onstage at the top of the show that the Ally Coalition had already raised over $190,000 on the evening, and throughout the event, comedians like Mike Birbiglia and Phoebe Robinson ended meditations on fatherhood and fried chicken, respectively, by shouting out the organization’s positive work.

For the audience, however, the best part of the talent show was that it felt like a talent show -- breezy and intimate, with seams showing on occasion. Rachel and Jack Antonoff told a story about the time she got high and drank Chardonnay on a treadmill, while Shamir could be spotted lounging on the floor of the stage’s back corner to watch Lorde’s set. Musgraves ended her performance by playing her pro-LGBTQ anthem, “Follow Your Arrow,” and promptly forgot the song’s third line, twice.

“Come on!” the country star called to the crowd in between laughter. “Surely somebody in this f---ing building knows the words!”