Maybe it's a Boston thing; maybe it's a me thing. Either way, I'm probably a bit late to the game with this one, but I just stumbled upon (what I consider) a completely unique way to find new music.
A couple months back, I was talking to a friend about wanting to see more local music shows, and she mentioned the site Sofar Sounds. Although she hadn't managed to get on the waitlist for any events, she explained that she had heard great things about the shows, which are usually held in someone's home or office space and limited in the number of people that can attend. They are intimate and take a lot of the bullshit out of going to a live show (you are asked to not text while the bands are playing and encouraged to engage with the strangers around you). Thinking this could be a really interesting opportunity, I put myself in the running for tickets to all events in my area. Within a week or so, I got a response back that I'd been picked to attend a show at a secret location (to be announced the day before the event) in the Back Bay. I bought my ticket and anxiously awaited to hear more about the show. Eventually, I received the email telling me that the show was to be held in an office on the 6th floor of the John Hancock building and that there would be three bands playing that evening.
The night of the show, I got to the location early enough to get a great spot (sitting on the floor) right in front of the stage. Unfortunately, I might have come a bit too early, because people filed in after and ended up sitting in front of me. Fortunately, I was still able to see enough of the stage and was close enough to hear the bands clearly, as they wouldn't be using any microphones to project the music.
Once everyone was settled, the host announced the first band, Dan and the Wildfire. As soon as they started their first song, I could hear strong influences of Mumford and Sons. I'm not usually one to listen to much folk music, but there was something about their sound that really drew me in. The lead singer had a really strong presence and all of the guys harmonized beautifully, especially during the song "The Devil Came Calling," which I personally loved. The trumpeter was also extremely talented and blew me away with some of his solos (I don't often see live music with a trumpet, so I found this really cool). They closed out their set with "You Don't Wanna Know How It Feels," a beautiful piece about loss and love off their new EP, The River's Gonna Rise, Pt. 1. All in all, their soulful rock and roll sounds were a great way to start the evening.
The next artist to perform was Cliff Notez (he made sure to note that the "Z" was to avoid copyright issues). During his introduction, he mentioned that he was greatly influenced by racism and mental health issues when making his album, When the Sidewalk Ends. His performance was a mix of rapping, singing, and spoken word, touching on some current political issues (one song started with "f*ck the system, mother f*ck the system" and there may have been a strategically placed "f*ck Trump" thrown into a song or two). During the song "Good Riddance," he says that he has no more f*cks to give because he gave them all away yesterday, commenting on how exhausting it can be to constantly be fighting for something and that sometimes you just don't have anything left to give. He ended his set with a funeral-inspired song, "Lights Out" that incorporated the lyrics "Can't cut the lights out without starting a party," encouraging the audience to sing along with him. By the end of his performance, it was easy to see why he has been chosen to kick off the upcoming Boston Music Awards New Music Series.
After a quick break, the final act, The Novel Ideas, started playing. Although they were the second folk band to play that evening, they brought a completely different feel. Their sound was a bit more country that the first band, and their female lead singer's voice was (honestly) captivating. Whenever she started singing, I couldn't take my eyes off her and I was completely in awe of her voice, especially during the songs "I'm Not Waiting" (my personal favorite) and "Old Ways," where they encouraged the audience to sing along to the chorus. Fun aside: the fire alarm also went off twice while they were playing, and they legitimately didn't miss a beat (it was just a drill, not a real fire, so it was safe to do so).
So I'd have to say that my first Sofar experience was amazing. I came out of the show wanting to hear more from each band, and following each of them on Spotify. One thing that I absolutely loved about this show was the fact that all of the bands were all local, so if I wanted to catch them again, I could easily do so. I also didn't realize how many great bands there are in Boston, and I'm excited to start using Sofar to see more.
Contributor: Erin Duggan @mysocalledsemiadultlife
Dan and The Wildfire
The Novel Ideas