On Saturday, February 6, folk singer Damien Jurado turned a $13 ticket into one worth five times more at the Brighton Music Hall. Five minutes past 8:00 p.m., Damien walked out of a side door and up the stairs to the stage, appearing as though he had just come out of a winter cabin in Puget Sound; he wore dark brown dress shoes, slightly cuffed up jeans, a red and black checkered flannel top and black rectangular glasses that couldn’t help but slip down the bridge of his nose every other minute. All he needed was a trooper hat to complete the look. Perhaps it was backstage in his green room.
As we stood in the front row in the tame crowd of young workingmen and women, my roommate turned to me and said, “I know this is a little thing, but no one is on their phone.” I shamefully lifted my head up from my Instagram endeavors and sure enough, not a single light shone from anyone’s hands. My recent 20th birthday suddenly felt so much more real. Just a few days after leaving my teen years and I was already hanging with the older crowd. Who knew it could be so much fun?
Damien took a seat on the black chair on stage, not seeming at all eager to interact with the audience, and started tuning his guitar. Expecting this process to be the usual few strums, I was thrown off by how much time he was taking.
“Alright, that was my sound check,” he mumbled a few minutes later, getting a light rumble of laughter from the audience—the first of many. He began his first song but stopped abruptly. “Oh, thanks for coming,” he said,” and proceeded to play again.
“I am the worst performer you’ll ever see,” he said at one point, an assertion that garnered a rumble of disapproval from his audience. His performance was not traditional in the least. It didn’t feel rehearsed, but in the best way possible.
Rather than a generic, well-rehearsed performance that he could have executed flawlessly at every city along his tour, he was truly playing for us 80 people gathered together in Allston. He was real and genuine, talking to us as if we were in his living room.
On stage he had incredible vocal control and adept instrumental skills, to say the least. His heartfelt lyrics and gentle, cozy voice made a woman belt out, “Shit I’m going to cry,” to which he responded, “Please don’t. Please don’t cry, because then I will.”
Not only is Damien a talented musician, but he is a downright hilarious comedian as well. His dry humor left us all with stomachaches by the end of the show. “There are two things I’m really bad at. The first is sounding sincere, and the second is smiling for photographs.” Not to mention this clever joke that he came up with on his own:
What do you call a horse without a home?
“I want to see this on the outside of a Laffy Taffy wrapper, guys,” he said, and we collectively promised to share the joke.
Damien ended his set with the most upbeat song he could think of, calling it a “corny little diddly.” He left the stage and came back for an encore, thanking us with the utmost sincerity for coming out to see him perform. “I want you to know that I see all the tweets and the Facebook messages, and they all mean so much to me, so thank you,” he said.
Damien Jurado is the complete package: musical talent, comic relief and a humble personality. Thank you.