All that I want in life is to see Sarah Jaffe. At 9:12PM outside of Momo’s, a very long line forms for Dallas’ songstress, and there is seemingly no way I will ever make it inside the venue. Except I have a determination similar to an upstream swimming salmon; that, and a press pass. A genuine product of society’s crooked nature, Jaffe’s craft is a gritty and eloquent truthfulness.
To explain Sarah Jaffe, I need something more than a precious stone reference. ‘A diamond in the rough’ means about as much as a bird in the hand equaling roughly the exact amount of two similar birds residing in a bush. I need a phrase that resonates. Something that highlights Jaffe in bright yellow, separating her from a textbook paragraph of black-and-white singer-songwriters.
Sarah Jaffe is a tragic Disneyland. She is the happiest place on earth experiencing a power outage. You are a second-grader gleefully exploring Cinderella’s castle, when life storms down upon the theme park, robbing it of shiny, electrically-operated joy. You realize that Mickey Mouse is just a guy in a suit. Tinkerbell’s wings do not work. Faces of It’s A Small World children creak before you, their mouths hinged open mid-lyric. Your friends and family have disappeared into the darkness, and you’re left standing alone; confused, perplexed, scared. You pause, and your glistening eyes scan the empty room. You step softly, trying not to make a sound.
You begin to explore. You look around at your present environment and notice the beauty of befallen tragedy, and the fact that no one else can see it except for you. There is room to run around and be yourself. Circumstance grants you permission to be creative without worrying about society telling you how to feel. Like the uncharted waters of young adulthood, you find your way out of the dark, and make this experience your own.
I ascend the staircase of Momo’s as “Vulnerable” sweetly coats my eardrums and haunts my soul. “Thank you for being here, scrunched together,” Jaffe thanks the packed audience. Her platinum hair stands out against her opaque black top. Her raspy, raw voice rings over guitar chords as her violinist adds a radiant harmonization to the chorus of “Clementine.” “I love you very, very much,” Jaffe confesses to a house that quietly and contently soaks in the most authentic showcase offered by SXSW. I hope they never find a way to turn the electricity back on.
Laura Stillo is the Arts & Entertainment Writer and Creative Social Media Producer for YouPlusDallas. Follow her on Twitter at @laurastillo.