Not too long ago I was introduced by a friend to an organisation called ‘Sounds From a Room’, or SOFAR for short, which organises gigs with a twist; you learn a show’s exact location no sooner than 24 hours before it starts, and only learn the show’s lineup once the artists are onstage in front of you. Everyone’s set is of equal length so there are no headliners. Venues range from someone’s living room (literally. I know, insane) to industrial and commercial spaces, and what’s more, there are practically no restrictions on genre or performance type so you could literally see anything. I was instantly intrigued.
Sure enough, five days later I found myself sitting with Samantha on a picnic blanket in the Bianca Road Brewery in Peckham, South London. Given the potential for a brewery to be a very industrial and cold setting, with their bare concrete floors and huge metal brewing vats, the soft lighting from some carefully placed fairy lights and the soft chatter of the crowd transformed the venue into a surprisingly intimate and cosy setting. Everyone seemed so at ease, sitting around on blankets and pillows strewn across the floor. At a SOFAR show the audience remains seated during sets, don’t chat during songs, or leave before every act has finished performing. Everything is about respecting and enjoying being at a live music show. Testament to this, both the crowd and performers alike were about as eclectic as I have ever seen at a single show: The first act was an alternative band called Spy From Moscow, playing delicate songs of guitar, trumpet, and cajón, with beautiful lyrics and melodies to match; next came Zia Ahmed, a poet with the perfect mix of comedy and tragedy, delivered beautifully to a rapt audience; and finally, a Belgian trio called Blow, who, armed with two saxophones and a drum kit, played their unique brand of ‘electronic’ music. Yet despite any superficial differences, everyone present was alike in the most important way: we were all there to have a good time listening to some live music.
And that’s exactly what music should be all about.
To attend a SOFAR show near you, perform, or even host your own, visit: https://www.sofarsounds.com.