It's a breezy summer night and almost 100 strangers have gathered in a bike shop in Brooklyn to listen to three performances. No one knows who it is that's going to be playing or what kind of music it's going to be but they know it will be good and besides, the air of mystery was too enticing. In a place as fruitful as New York City, it's easy to find concerts in empty warehouses, rooftops, coffee shops and other random places but a stranger's living room? That's pretty different.
Sofar Sounds (Sofar = Sounds from a room), which is a live-music promotion company originally founded in London, is one of the most unique and exciting things to happen to the music scene. So you might be saying to yourself, 'what's so new about an in-house concert?' Well there's a twist we know you won't be able to resist: secrecy. In order to gain access to one of the concerts, you have to create a profile and from there you'll be able to apply for a ticket on whichever event you'd like to go to. So far so good, right?
Another twist is that the venue locations are kept secret until midnight the day of the performance, and even the performers themselves are kept a secret until the set begins. Past surprise acts have included famous artists but Sofar is passionate about promoting independent artists who haven't hit it big just yet.
Why keep the audience so small? Often at live music concerts in bustling music halls with crowds of people, it can be difficult to hear the music and artists may not be given the attention they deserve. That's why the founders, Rocky Start, Dave Alexander and Rafe Offer came up with the idea to host these incredibly talented musicians in a more intimate setting... like their own homes. What started just in London has now expanded to over 263 cities in the world, with a network of artists, hosts and guests all around the globe.
In order to avoid lines at the bar, the people at Sofar are firm believers in BYOB. This way you can sit back with you, your date and a bottle of wine for the duration of the performance and not worry about having to miss anything or disrupt the performer. Their hope is to bring the magic back into live music and it's definitely been a success.
Each show typically features three acts, in no preferential order (ie: there is no 'opener' or 'closer'), and every artist is given careful attention. Guests are asked to arrive on time, as well as stay off their phones during a performance. You can snap a pic or two but there's no filming, no talking and no texting. The intimacy of the environment is extremely rewarding and it's refreshing to disconnect from the tech-world for a bit to enjoy good music with good people. Everyone is there in the name of music. Artists are only paid through donation and the cost is free for attendance... that is if you're lucky enough to get the invite.
[Photos via Master & Dynamic]