Tag Archives: Seryn

Religious Experience: Sarah Jaffe, Robert Gomez and Seryn at St. David’s in Denton

17 Jan

By Jesseca Bagherpour

I’ll begin this review on a personal note: When I walked into St. David’s Episcopal church on Friday night , I was insanely uncomfortable. It’s been about six years since I’ve intentionally walked into a church sanctuary (aside from weddings and functions at church daycares where I’ve worked, but that’s different). I was once a devout Christian and am now agnostic (for lack of a better term). Sitting in a pew, my back stiffening, and looking at the altar and the Jesus banners brought back a rush of emotions for me. Being in the church for four hours forced me to confront some feelings that I won’t go into here. But I felt it necessary to give an idea of my discomfort to illustrate just how breathtaking the show was. Despite the initial tension, the music put me completely at ease.

I’d never seen opening act Seryn before, and they thoroughly impressed me. They held their own with the more experienced Jaffe and Gomez and their performance was flawless. What stands out the most with Seryn is their striking vocal harmonies. They’re a group of phenomenally talented multi-instrumentalists, but their voices are their most finely-tuned instruments. Though at times I was momentarily distracted by the praise-band feel of the music (which is hard to ignore when you’re in a church), and although some of the songs were a bit less interesting than others, my focus inevitably went back to the band’s harmonies.

The start of Robert Gomez’s set was delayed a bit due to technical issues, but it was well worth the wait. I see Gomez every chance I get, in fact I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen him at this point, but I think this was my favorite Gomez performance to date. The venue’s perfect acoustics and the audience’s complete silence didn’t hurt, but Gomez was also in peak form. He’s played solo the last few times I’ve seen him and I was glad to see Heather Test (on French horn) and Jesse Chandler (on flute and omnichord) accompanying him. Though his music sounds good no matter the number of instruments involved, it sounds richer when he has at least a couple of people backing him.

The highlight of the set for me was probably “Chicken (Americauna pullet, beheaded in Alabama for Sunday dinner, 1958)”, a song from his in-progress album based on Severance: Stories, a book of stories about decapitation by Robert Olen Butler. As with all of Gomez’s tunes, the intricate narrative of the song completely drew me in. And the plucking of his taut guitar strings were evocative of a chicken’s pecking and clucking, making the story that much more relatable.

It’s hard not to fall in love with Sarah Jaffe. She has a completely captivating presence, an unmistakable voice and a sincerity that makes you feel every emotion her lyrics convey. Seryn joined Jaffe for her opener, an a capella rendition of the classic hymn “Come, Thou Font of Every Blessing” and, despite a few missed notes here and there, the song sent chills up my spine. And the set only got better from there. She played some of my favorite tunes, including “Stay With Me”, “Black Hoax Lie”, “Two Intangibles”, and “Even Born Again” (despite the decidedly anti-religious tone of the song, it felt in no way disrespectful in the religious setting but was even more poignant than usual).

With each song, one thought remained constant: Jaffe’s and Gomez’s voices were made to be together. (This also came up when Jaffe provided backing vocals on Gomez’s final song of the night.) Whichever vocalist is singing lead, the other’s harmonies are the perfect complement. Becki Howard (on violin) also provided great vocal support, but the combination of Gomez and Jaffe is transcendent.

The evening came to a climactic ending with Jaffe, Gomez and the male members of Seryn gathering on stage for “Perfect Plan”. The dominant bass drum (which was perhaps too dominant in this instance) and guitar riff get me every time with that song, and inevitably stick with me for hours after it’s over. Because of the sheer energy of the performers and song, the audience was drawn into clapping their hands and soon everyone present was contributing to the music in some way. Jaffe closed her set to uproarious applause and cheers, which is a reaction I’m sure she’ll be receiving for years to come (and for the next couple of months while she tours Europe with Midlake).

Note: Midlake’s Eric Pulido and The Hope Trust’s Andy Odom, both members of St. David’s congregation, arranged the show after realizing that the sanctuary would make for an incredible venue. They were right, and after Friday’s success we should see more shows there in the future.

Rundown: 7/7 to 7/12

7 Jul

The issue of doing most of the writing for this site is when something comes up I don’t really have anyone to fall back on to get post up, and I’m forced to through random shit up via my phone. Anyway, we’ve got a fairly decent week capped by a free show we’re throwing, and a that little bit of breaking news we had for you on Sunday. Continue reading