The Backyard, Brighton, MA
November 20, 2015
The Backyard is an interesting venue, hosting house concerts, typically in — you guessed it — the backyard. In late November, however, the concert was held inside, in a very unique downstairs space. As is often the case with house concerts, The Backyard’s concert series consists of a potluck before the show, a concert-style performance, and a little mingling afterwards. I had not seen Sarah Borges perform before, but she came highly recommended, so I made an effort to get out to see her perform this year; this concert, indoors at The Backyard, was my best opportunity.
Shortly after I first heard about Sarah, I briefly checked out her music online, but that was months ago, so I entered this concert quite unaware of the style of music I was about to hear. And, indeed, the music is easy to identify but hard to describe. She’s bluesy, rockin’, rootsy, rockabilly, with a hint of old-school country but an alt-rock/punk-rock edge. Got that? (Sarah’s SoundCloud page lists her style as “Rock/Americana/folk/indie,” so yeah, that sounds about right.) It really works, and it provides a fun concert atmosphere. Musically, she could share the stage with anyone from Karen Nash (Americana/country) to The Empty Hearts (old-school Orbisonesque rock) to The Baghdaddios (NYC raucous punk-rock) and still win over their audiences. Others who came to mind during various portions of Sarah’s two sets were Patsy Cline, Elvis Presley, Joan Jett, and The Wonders (yes, the band in That Thing You Do!). One tune even evoked for me the Beatles’ “I Saw Her Standing There.” As I said, an intriguing mix that really works.
A few songs stood out for me (actually many, but this is limited to those whose song titles I could easily discern, as I was not familiar with Sarah’s music prior to this gig). The first was a tune with great energy, “Can’t Go On This Way,” which features a little ’50s, old-school rock rhythm and stylistically fitting vocals. “It Comes to Me Naturally” is a rollicking number that could be a cousin to Chuck Berry’s “Johnny B. Goode.” Finally, “The Waiting and the Worry” is a tuneful, catchy crowd favorite that features Sarah’s insistent vocals at their best, well-placed guitarwork, and a hook that might keep it in your mind for days.
In summary, this was a fun concert from a charismatic singer — heck, a charismatic band. A great evening out. And proof why I’d heard so much buzz about Sarah before finally getting out to one of her gigs.
Sarah’s next performance is tonight, November 28, at the Narrows Center for the Performing Arts in Fall River, Massachusetts. Her next flurry of performances is four shows in four nights with Amy Black (Dec. 16 at The Grey Eagle in Asheville, NC; Dec. 17 at The Evening Muse in Charlotte, NC; Dec. 18 at Motorco in Durham, NC; and Dec. 19 at IOTA in Arlington, VA), followed by a return to Massachusetts (December 31st at the Lizard Lounge in Cambridge; Jan. 9 at Atwood’s Tavern, also in Cambridge). Of course, all of Sarah’s upcoming dates are listed on her website.