A sold out show at The Loft last night proved Jay Brannan has some major drawing power. Save for a Britney concert, it seemed kind of rare in Dallas to see that many gay men (and a healthy smattering of women) convened for a night of live music. But there they were filling the tables and then some in the small venue last night. And by the rounds of applause, Brannan gave them what they were looking for.
Which was really hard to say what that might have been.
Is Brannan something to just look at or is he someone to actually listen to? Often I overheard, “He’s so adorable,” or “How cute is he?” Brannan knows he’s cute and he uses that to his advantage during banter in between songs. Anecdotal tales about car wrecks and an obsession with Pancho’s had many giggling like teenage schoolgirls. People gazed at him lovingly during the ballads and clapped like the end of a really good sermon. Beyond that, there wasn’t much more substance to be had.
During “Soda Shop,” he called for the disco ball. The light shone and rotating specks danced around the audience as he sang the tune. After he finished he uttered, “That’s about as upbeat as it’s gonna get.” He wasn’t lying. Emo tunes and stripped down covers filled the rest of the night.
Brannan gave as good a show as he could. He sang, he strummed, he spoke, people applauded and um, that was about it. Favorites like “Housewife” and “Ever After Happily” went over well, as did the covers from his latest release. But with a bare naked show as this, there wasn’t much more he could give. It wasn’t staid necessarily, it was merely a show. Calling it good (or bad) would be enough. Last night, it was good.
Whether they just liked to look at him or truly appreciated the music, the audience ate him up. People welled during “Beautifully” and laughed when he cursed abundantly during an added stanza in “La La La.” Perhaps the real magic behind Brannan is the way he sings the words of a gay man to and for gay men. It’s almost weird to hear the words that a guy might want to say to their boyfriend or to that man across the bar. In the same note, it’s almost a relief. As if every gay man has been waiting to exhale until that voice came along which, for the audience, was last night.
Props to the sound man. Whoever did sound should win an award because Brannan’s voice was pristine as was the guitar. Also, kudos to local roots artist Katsuk who filled in at the last minute according to Brannan. He drummed and strummed a decent set but his final flute number drove the audience into a frenzy.