Rafe Offer and Rocky Start saw the loss of the magic of live music in traditional gigs because of the loud and crowded atmosphere of most concert venues. In 2009, they invited some friends over to their London flat for a low-key, intimate gig. Eight people gathered on their living room floor to listen to live music performed by their friend Dave Alexander and share drinks. The room was so quiet from people attentively listening to the music you could hear the clock ticking in the background. What started as a hobby in London quickly spread into a global community for artists and audiences to come together in unique and welcoming spaces to share, discover, and create--and hopefully make a friend or find their new favorite band along the way. The artists are also not advertised beforehand, so the audience will most likely find new artists to discover or be surprised to hear from an artist they are already familiar with. Today, Sofar Sounds is a community of thousands of artists, hosts, and fans putting on hundreds of secret, intimate events per month, across more than 350 cities around the world.
The specific show I attended was on February 15, 2018 at a home in Midtown Memphis. There are usually three acts in Sofar Sounds shows, and the three acts of my night were Magnolia, PreauXX, and Sawyer. Magnolia and PreauXX are both based in Memphis, while Sawyer is based in Nashville. I had already seen PreauXX live at The Audubon Sessions show, hosted by the Mike Curb Institute for Music, on November 13, 2015, and on Rhodes campus, but I was not familiar with the newer music he performed that night. I had never heard of Magnolia or Sawyer, but they were amazing, female-fronted bands that I have since found on social media and have been listening to their music on repeat ever since. I love discovering artists through their live shows because the energy surrounding live music is much more palatable than listening to a recording of a song. The connectivity of a live show to the artist is unparalleled to that of a recording as well, especially in the setting of a Sofar Sounds show when the artist is just feet away from you and not separated by huge barriers or people.
Text by Sarah Johnson