Rich Ripley turned up with high expectations at a recently disclosed location on a rainy night in Sheffield. The perfect beginning to a Sofar Night.
I think if I had to pick the three things that annoy me most about going to gigs it would have to be the overpriced drinks, poor sound quality, and 99% of the other people in the room with me. Now I’m very aware that I now sound like a cheap, unsociable music snob, however this article isn’t about me….it’s about Sofar Sounds….and why it’s designed for unsociable snobs like me.
Sofar – short for ‘songs from a front room’ – is a global movement which takes place in almost 200 cities around the world, spanning from Sydney to Mumbai and for the last 18 months our very own Sheffield town. Sofar events are hosted in a range of intimate and unique locations and the acts are a secret to audience members until they arrive. Audience members register to attend via the Sofar website and the lucky few are emailed a few days before the event with the details for the secret location. Attendance to these events are free (but donations are definitely encouraged and welcomed) and all Sofar Sheffield events have a ‘bring your own’ policy for drinks.
No two Sofar events are alike and already in Sheffield we have seen them take place everywhere from Savilles Barber Shop to Seven Hills Bakery and of course in many a front room (including one with a particularly stunning view at the top of Park hill Flats). However, one thing all of these gigs have in common is the quality of both the acts and audiences, and this rainy Thursday evening in October proved to be no different.
Venue of choice this time was The Hide and as usual I had no idea who the acts would be until I arrived there. As everyone tentatively made their way into the venue and nervously chose a spot to settle for the evening we were welcomed by the fantastic Sofar Sheffield host Gina. In the space of about five seconds she somehow had a room full of nervous strangers singing along to a catchy little chant she’d thrown out into the room. Although worryingly cult-like, this straight away put a smile on everyone’s face, turned a room full of strangers into Sofar comrades and kick-started the evening’s festivities.
First up was Jed Appleton, a young troubadour all the way from Tasmania whose very personable and charming manner meant it was like he’d been my best mate for years. Then his flawless vocals throughout his indie/ folk bag of songs performed meant you like him all the more. Folky Jazz outfit Pureland took to the stage next and their epic folk tales had the room captivated immediately – they also got a cheer or two for an exceptional double bass solo. Up next were two members of local favourites Jupiter in Jars. With more instruments than we could count, their upbeat folky tunes had everyone smiling and tapping along.
Lastly was Rose Betts and although every act had actually been wonderful, she took things to the next level. There were notes of Regina Spector around the edges but very definitely a unique voice and style which instantly blew away the audience. She was able to seem very modern whilst also taking us back to a 1922 vintage style at times and had a story to tell with every song.
So if you’re a fan of stripped-back acts whose songs you can hear in intimate venues with an audience who truly appreciates music then I can’t recommend Sofar events enough. Check out the Sofar Sheffield Website for upcoming dates and info on how to bag yourself a place at an upcoming show.