Hosted by familiar faces with performances by talented up-and-coming artists, Sofar Sounds creates an event unlike any other. Sofar, a shortened version of the phrase “songs from a room,” prides themselves on the unique experience they deliver as they transform simple, everyday locations — such as living rooms, backyards or cafes — into the ideal location for an intimate and secret live show.
The moment the guests arrive into what seems like an unlikely location for a small live show, they are thrown into an immersive experience that creates a strong connection between the audience and the performers. Usually with around three acts and no headliner, guests sit comfortably on couches or on the floor in a cozy room with lights twinkling around the venue, listening intently to the captivating performances.
Sofar Sounds is not like any other live music experience. The emphasis is not placed on who the artist is, where it is or what kind of music. The only thing highlighted is the fact that this is live music for you to enjoy. The tickets are given out like a lottery with the location remaining hidden until it is secretly revealed the day before to the people accepted to attend. The identities of the performers aren’t revealed until they are standing in front of you to perform. Sofar is not about how well-known the venue is, how many people are attending or who is performing. It is about bringing strangers together in a familiar place with one common interest — music.
For those of us that dedicate the majority of our paycheck and the majority of our free time to attending concerts, big and small, going to a show as intimate, laid back and ambient as a Sofar one allows you to focus on nothing but the music. It makes each show an entirely new experience that takes you to a brand new location with different people and unique artists.
Think of a Sofar show as a safe haven. The volunteers are there dedicating their free time to help a cause which is keeping the spirit of live music alive within the community. The audience is there for no other reason besides their appreciation for music. The artists are there to share their passion. Music has always been a force that blends people from all walks of life and this scenario is no different; it is meant to keep that force alive. For the few hours that you are kept in this space, everything else going on within your life seems insignificant and you enter a trance-like state where all that matters is the people surrounding you and the ambient sounds you hear.
When a show is about to begin, every Sofar host asks the audience not to talk during the performance but encourages them to take pictures and videos as they listen. But in crowds such as these, there is no need for such an announcement because these individuals are there to do just that. Nobody signs up months in advance for a show where the location and artists are kept a secret if they are not there to live in the moment and take it all in. The price you pay for a ticket, which is typically only $10 to $15, is typically used for donations. With every show you attend, you keep the love of live music flowing through the community.
When you incorporate elbow to elbow crowds of people talking and constant flash photography and the audience barely paying attention to the performer, you lose the connected feeling you should receive at a live show. Sofar was made with only a few simple rules to eliminate this disengaged behavior. You are not allowed to talk, consider buying the artist’s merchandise and stay for the entirety of the show. These are simple rules yet often forgotten at most live shows nowadays. Sofar is working to reignite the importance.
Through word of mouth and social media, Sofar Philly has allowed this underground music scene to grow. It has brought the community of musicians, venue hosts and music lovers closer together. In the Philadelphia metropolitan area, people are consumed within their everyday lives by school, work and their lives as a whole. With all the constant moving around and rushing, it is a sight to see when Philadelphians cuddle up together on a floor or couch and manage to stay quiet and unwind for a couple hours while enjoying music. We should all do our part in supporting Sofar Philly to not only support small local artists but also to provide this city with a sanctuary unlike any other.
Sofar expands globally, but through a smaller lens, it extends city wide and brings this community closer together. It is authentic, it is freeing, it is intimate and it is an experience that needs to be felt by any music-lover. Take just a couple hours to go on this adventure and take yourself to a new place and open yourself up to unknown people and different music. Immerse yourself in a therapeutic and captivating experience such as this to appreciate the purest form of live music.