The music industry is notoriously difficult for musicians and bands to crack, and bagging yourself gigs can be a long, tedious process. We spoke to Dan Toone, member of a local band The Monks in the Wood, about his experience with Sofar...
What are Sofar Nights?
Music brings comfort to some, entertainment to others, but most of all helps fulfil and drive humanity to accomplish whatever they vision to be meaningful and prominent, as a speck in this bewildering Cosmos that we, the human race, have a minuscule role in.
Sofar Sounds was founded in 2010 by Rafe Offer, Rocky Start and Dave Alexander for passionate music lovers who want to discover new artists. It is, essentially, a network of artists, hosts, and guests, who share a passion for live music. They come together in small, intimate events which typically feature three of the best upcoming artists from any genre.
The Sofar experience encourages attendees to arrive on time and watch each individual set with significance, instead of being blasé, arriving late, coming only for the headline act and paying less attention to each support by either; playing with their smart-phones, talking to friends or just being too “hipster” to listen.
Now Sofar has venues in 261 cities worldwide, from small living room set-ups, to large amphitheatres all of which are kept secret until the night before the show. The acts are also kept secret until it’s time for their performance, as the anonymity is all part of the experience adding excitement and wander to the evening. Acts that perform at Sofar Sounds range from brand new talent discovered by Sofar scouts, to well established acts signed to major labels such as; Bastille, Leon Bridges, James Bay and the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
Originally the shows created by Sofar were predominantly acoustic. This is due to the nature of its production, opening in people’s living rooms allowing artists to perform a more stripped back version of their material.
Attending a Sofar Sounds Gig
I recently attended a Sofar show at a small capacity venue called ‘Platform’ in Southwark, London, where around 70 people sat quietly awaiting the performers to be introduced by a Sofar host. Each host greets everyone at the start of the evening, informs them about Sofar and encourages people to get involved with the project that has now been a platform for a variety of performers worldwide. This particular event had a BYOB policy (as a lot of Sofars do), so I came prepared with a rucksack full of amenities that would last me at least a few hours. During the first act, I embarrassingly popped open a bottle of beer that shook the muted room in time with the bands song, luckily getting a whimsical praise from the artist, like I stated, passionate music lovers want to LISTEN to the music without distraction. ’Platform’ is a captivating space for a show such as Sofar, as its size creates the level of intimacy needed for a small audience with primarily acoustic acts.
As a musician attending a Sofar event, I can safely say it inspired me to want to write and perform a whole lot more than I’m doing at this very moment. It gives you a sense of security and almost refuge that the music industry isn’t as synthetic as everyone somehow related to the industry reveals. It gives artists a sense of hope at a much needed time, where competition is rife and social media swamps consumers with unlimited amounts of content. Sofar Sounds insinuates its positive and undeniable devotion to artists who deserve a chance to express themselves with content that they’ve worked hard on, to audiences that may discover them and love them for what they are, creating cherished relationships that may last a lifetime.