The House of Dang might be the most fantastic store in all of Dallas. But once you’ve walked past the racks of gently used tees and screen printed underwear, you enter a sort of Narnian wardrobe – the gateway to the backyard. Surrounded by tall buildings and brick walls, this little garden was the perfect venue for last night’s free show. There, amidst the shrubbery and twinkle lights, a gathering of Sarah Jaffe fans were happily hanging out, waiting for her set to begin.
Sure, it was a little toasty. But once we’d overcome our insecurities about perspiring, it was all good. And as Sarah said, “This is what summer’s all about to me: community and sweating together.” Amen, sister. And it did indeed feel like summer as I sat next to a little dog and a six-pack of beers, listening to the sound of birds chirping and cigarette lighters clicking on and off underneath the setting sun.
The audience ceased its cordial chatter as Sarah and her cohorts began to play. Behind her was a screen with old films playing on a loop – Andy Warhol’s Screen Tests series meets Perfect Plan was an interesting twist. And although someone had duct taped a DVD player and projector to a wooden beam, no one could get a basic microphone to work. But never fear! The show went on, sans mic. Even the sounds of sirens and trucks flying past couldn’t break the audience’s quiet concentration and adoration of the tunes. Once the indoor AC system was shut off and the sky began to darken, the standing crowd sat down like we were doing the wave. (Note to self: always bring a blanket with you wherever you go. And a mini battery-operated fan). A proper mic was eventually procured, but it didn’t matter much.
Of course, Sarah played all her classics – If I was held at gunpoint and forced to pick a favorite song of all time, I might have to go with “Backwards/Forwards.” But she also worked in a few superb covers. Her rendition of The Ronettes’ “Be My Baby” made every girl and boy in the audience wish it was a personal shout-out, and the band’s cover of the Magnetic Fields’ “Strange Powers” was good as well. But my personal favorite was her version of MGMT’s “Time to Pretend” played on – wait for it – the banjo. I thought the original was pretty OK, but this cover was way awesome. You might consider carrying a banjo with you next time you’re in Denton on the off chance that you’ll run into Sarah and she’ll sit down and play her cover for you. Just a thought.
But the high point of the evening was the grand finale – a Sarah Jaffe original rap. The shades went on and her alter ego came out – her rap group that goes by the name of Motherchild. She and her boys gave Lil Wayne a run for his money with their single “Momma Likey.” It seems to me that her next logical career move would be to scrap the whole acoustic folk act and make it big in the world of white rappers.
At this point, I didn’t think the event could get any better. But as I was chatting with Sarah after the show and she confessed to being an avid reader of the Art&Seek blog, I knew my night was complete.