Lights are finally going down and the people around you begin chanting even louder. Music begins to play and you close your eyes the minute you hear a voice booming out through the sound system in hopes of losing yourself in the moment. Right then you get shoved forward as beer is spilled on you while hearing someone around you being loud and out of control already. Your moment of connection with the music is lost and now you are beginning to fume with annoyance. We’ve all been there no matter who you were seeing live or where at. The mindset of seeing a live music performance today has been taken over with the mindset of just being seen there. The era of FOMO is fully upon us and the era of seeing live bands to fully enjoy the music and lose yourself in it is dwindling.
This is a common frustration I was finding myself in and discussing with friends around me. I would end up not seeing groups I love or attending shows because I would end up leaving at the end of the night defeated and annoyed. This constant struggle sparked a conversation between me and one of my closest friends where she introduced me to a company that was founded by people who shared my aggravations. Three guys in London used their dissatisfaction with seeing live music to form their own company that had the vision to bring the magic back to live music and those who valued it and wanted to connect with it. What better way to do that than to have your own personal show in your apartment and only invite friends who will appreciate live music like you do and won’t be engrossed in their phones, yelling in a ridiculous manner or spilling beer on everyone around them. After they had their first successful mini show in one of their apartments in London, the global community that is Sofar Sounds was born and kept growing from there.
Today you can find shows put on by Sofar Sounds in more than 300 cities globally. All shows have the intent of connecting you with musicians from different genres and instill an environment to enjoy them in. A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to experience my first ever Sofar Sounds show and enjoyed it so much I decided to attend another one the week after. Each show was different and unique in its own way while still inhabiting the company’s core values the entire time. Both events consisted of three acts and were held at a local bar in Prospect Heights, close to my neighborhood Crown Heights.
The first event I attended was on May 30th and I was able to experience Suenos Jazz Quintet, The Chairman Dances and The Aviary. All acts brought their own style and talent to the evening and ranged in an array of genres. The first act, Suenos Jazz Quintet was phenomenal managing to fuse jazz with an R&B/Hip-Hop aesthetic that rocked the whole venue to its core. They exuded a vibe that was able to sync everyone in the room listening to them. Their talent, coordination and compilation is what I live for when it comes to seeing live music. Please stay up to date with them on their Facebook page in hopes of seeing them live yourself.
The second two acts, The Chairman Dances and The Aviary digressed to a more intimate acoustic sound due to the small setting. The Aviary band was completely stripped down now that I have had a chance to listen to their recordings. Their sound had a more melancholy feel to it twisted in with indie rock, connecting me to a deeper space internally. The Chairman Dances finished the night with what they call ‘bookish indie rock’ which in itself is amazing and frankly they are just that. A group curated of songs that aren’t put in one box in particular like a happy song but have a way of navigating you through everything that is. The Chairman Dances were the perfect way to end the night and frankly kick off Summer.
After having such a wonderful time and talking about it the entire walk home I decided to submit my name to be selected for another show the following week. By luck of the draw I was selected again finding myself at another Sofar Sounds show a week later. Similar to the week before there were three acts, it was at the exact same bar (within walking distance of home) and a room filled with people who were there for the exact same reason I was, to enjoy and appreciate live music together. The three acts during this night were drastically different than the previous week’s but in all the same, very talented. In true acoustic fashion the first act, Vinegar Mother started us off with a lead singer who had one of the more soulful voices I have heard live. Everyone in the room was captivated by her voice completely losing themselves in each and every moment she was singing. The small amount of time she did perform seemed to fly by due to the fact that I just found myself in a mesmerized state, completely losing all sense of time. Little did I know this was only the tip of the iceberg for the evening.
The night just built off of the soulfulness of Vinegar Mother by bringing in Bel-Ami to project his own alluring voice into the night. He exemplified a wide range of styles into his music but at the core harnessed the sound of soul/R&B. His act was stripped down even more than usual to a raw acoustic setting especially during his closing song which he sang to his girlfriend who was there. It was raw and beautiful, making me even feel like it was just them two in the room but in an enchanting way. Everything about his set was haunting and mesmerizing, silencing the world for everyone in the room.
Coming full circle and finishing the night was Founders, a band comprised of string, brass and percussion. Growing up playing the violin myself I am always drawn to groups that are able to incorporate any member of the string family into their music. Founders not only incorporated one member of the string family but four along with a killer trumpet player. The five members of classical musicians have come together to form a group that is able to collaborate and perform music of all genres but harnessing the music of the Appalachian while also taking you to a time of New York where the sounds of brass instruments seemed to fill the streets. A sense of nostalgia filled the room, a nostalgia for old New York where this type of music was the norm. I have to say in true Sofar fashion, the magic was definitely brought back to live music thanks to all three of these acts.
Thanks to the expansion and global community that is Sofar, it is becoming more accessible for people to experience live music in an intimate setting and to be surrounded by those who are wanting the same thing. Sofar has expanded to a number of cities across the globe, and you can easily find a show near you on their website here.
For all my NYC locals, if you’re interested in checking out Sofar, head to www.sofarsounds.com/nyc and use the code MYHIGHALPINE-637A5 to skip the line and get priority access to purchase tickets to the show of your choice!
I hope to see you at a show soon or if you are attending a show outside of New York, feel free to post about your experience while tagging @sofarsounds and me, @mariellelauren. Join me and Sofar in keeping the magic of live music going. Support live music, hire live musicians.