Back in August I was introduced to “Sofar Sounds”. I’d heard of it but didn’t really know what it was. Now after performing at 4 “Sofar Sounds” gigs, the concept never ceases to amaze me. If you happen to be an effortless hipster (or aspire to be one) and you love ‘live’, undiscovered music, then this may interest you…
As a musician it can be frustrating when you’re gigging in a pub and nobody wants to listen. Fair enough they’ve come to drink, not to see me. But when I’ve finished singing my tunes and nobody claps because they’re in the middle of a very important (sometimes very drunk) conversation, it can make you feel very sorry for yourself. Also as an audience member, I may go to see a musician or a band and I can’t hear them over the noise and the phone calls and the thumbs aggressively texting. Or sometimes I can only watch the act through the camera of the bellend in front of me filming. End of rant.
3 guys called Rafe Offer, Rocky Start and Dave Alexander also got sick of this. So in 2009 they started up Sofar Sounds. A programme where people sign up to be invited to secret and private concerts, usually in somebody’s living room. These members can also volunteer to let out their homes to host the Sofar gig. So imagine: 30-50 strangers turn up to another stranger’s flat or home, they bring their own booze, sit on the stranger’s couch or floor, closely surrounded by other strangers, and listen to some live, acoustic, original music. Very intense. 3 artists perform a 20 min set and the audience aren’t allowed to text, talk, leave the room, film etc. In between each act there’s a 10 min break where people can go to the toilet, go for a fag, mingle with their fellow strangers and share the interest that they all have in common; music.
Throughout my Sofar experience I have performed alongside some very talented musicians, singers, songwriters and poets. Some that I still keep in touch with. And the beauty of a Sofar audience is that they listen. Yes, it is intimidating looking up and seeing 30-50 strangers literally at my feet watching my every move; but I love it. It’s hard to talk to an audience that’s not listening, but at Sofar I can waffle and rant until my little, (big) mouth is content. When I write a song, I like to include a bit of comedy. My lyrics are sarcastic and playful, and because the Sofar audiences listen, they actually laugh at the punchlines I’ve written, which is very fulfilling. Here’s a few pics from a Sofar gig I did earlier on in the week…bare in mind that the photographer couldn’t get a full body photo because of the lack of space – told you it was intense.
What started out as a bizarre idea from 3 guys, turned into an incredible experience. Everybody who works for Sofar is a volunteer, anybody can volunteer. It’s refreshing to know that there are still people out there who are driven by the music as opposed to the dollar. With over 100 gigs a month and communities in over 300 cities, Sofar Sounds is going strong. I would recommend performers to sign up to play at these events if, like me, you thrive for an audience connection, and I would also recommend this experience to anyone who loves ‘live’ music.
Click here to see what it’s all about…
Sofar…so good x
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