Big Bang With Erykah Badu and DJ Sober Beauty Bar, Dallas Thursday, December 18, 2014
Sometimes it seems as if everyone in Dallas is playing an endless game of "Six degrees of separation" from Erykah Badu. It's more like two degrees, since it appears everybody has a friend's cousin who grew up with little Erica Wright. Despite these alleged connections, actual Badu sightings are rare for most Dallasites, and she's become kind of a mythical figure in her own hometown. But this week she's treated us to two special DJ appearances, one of which happened last night in the intimate confines of Beauty Bar for DJ Sober's Big Bang dance night.
In spite of (relative) newcomers St. Vincent and Sarah Jaffe's recent rapid stardom, Badu is still the biggest and most original female voice to emerge locally. There's Jessica Simpson, too, but Lord let us forget her singing (and acting) career. The insanely talented and wonderfully eccentric Queen of Neo-Soul's reign seems to extend beyond international fame and feels more like that of a cosmic appeal. Badu, after all, has an otherworldly quality about her.
So when trying to come up with a special, pre-Christmas guest DJ for his Big Bang party, DJ Sober was reluctant to book an expectedly big, out-of-towner and went domestic. After all, despite her superstardom, Badu is quintessentially Dallas. Sober had worked with her in the past, mostly DJing her own private parties. He'd also made a Badu-endorsed remix of her hit "On and On." She quickly accepted his offer.
Badu started the week hosting a party for comedian Dave Chapelle, whom she called her best friend, as he was in town for his two dates at the House of Blues. The Foundation Room, the venue's VIP room, held an invitation-only party on Monday night, thrown by Central Track. Badu DJed the event, playing a lot of neo-soul such as the Fugees, and excitedly made reference to her "Baby Daddy" (André 3000) as she spun some Outkast. Singing along in parts, no diva airs about her, surrounded by close friends as Chapelle walked around comfortably smoking in a tank top (his ripped shoulders in plain view), the party was a refreshingly low-key event.
Badu has DJed sporadically throughout recent years, using the alias Lo Down Loretta Brown which is really a technicality, an alter-ego such as "Sasha Fierce" that doesn't conceal her identity in the least. In any case, Beauty Bar on Henderson is not the kind of venue she's ever worked before, an event completely open to the public, and DJ Sober would be the one to bring her out to do it.
Sober is arguably the biggest DJ in Dallas, having been something of a King Bee in the local dance music scene for years. As one half of Booty Fade, he DJs with partner Picnictyme, while his Big Bang event on Thursdays at the Travis Basement has been a consistently packed event. Usually playing a mix of Hip Hop and R&B plus a dash of world music, Sober has a bit of a polyglot's taste and has an undeniable talent for reading his crowd's mind, leaching their souls onto the dance floor and delivering a crazy good party.
Part of it is his fearlessness in trying out new tracks, the experience he acquires on his constant traveling, and the fact that he has that accidental not-even-trying cool cat factor. At this point, he could probably play that annoying song from "Frozen" and the crowd would approve. Sober has not only a recognizable style but more of an entire brand. He started out as a graphic artist and now oversees every aesthetic promotional aspect to his shows.
To top it off he's one of the most genuinely friendly and humble people in the city. "Just to switch things up", as he states, Sober recently moved his Thursday party at the Basement to Beauty Bar, he's also currently collaborating with Dayta and in a few months will be returning to NYC for a month. Being well-connected in New York, he spins all over. Still, he says he much prefers the Dallas scene and its possibilities.
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The kitschy 50's bar and beauty salon, Beauty Bar, was completely packed last night like a bus in India. There was barely any room in between the ever-expanding universe of bodies but people attempted to dance -- even if moving their fingers was about all they could manage to move. Sober started the night out by spinning some Snoop Dogg, old-school hip hop and lots of reggae. Badu switched it up to older soul, funk and '90s hip hop.
The last hour slowed down to a simmering groove of neo-soul and R&B, making everybody dance peacefully as their mellowest self. Despite his own following, Sober states he is pleased at seeing the amount of new faces in the crowd tonight, who are undoubtedly there for a glimpse of Badu's hair, to relish in the bits of singing she does over her own songs, and the overall celebration of your friend's cousin's Erykah's success. And with the frequency of her appearances in recent weeks (she made her annual appearance at The Door on Thanksgiving, as well), it feels like another small gift to us from our favorite local superstar.
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