Bringing the magic back to live music

Founded in London in 2010 and based all over the place, Sofar Sounds is bringing the magic back to live music. Getting on the guest list for one of their intimate, invite-only events is one surprise among many — the excitement of which continues to capture the interest of artists and audiences alike.

"My first experience was three amazing bands in this cool office space," says Samantha Waterman (BS Marketing/BA Tourism '11), who volunteers as an artist liaison for Sofar Los Angeles. "I had no idea who was going to be performing or where the location was. I loved the anticipation."

Newcomers lucky enough to land a ticket can expect to hear from three diverse artists in a unique space, with a secret lineup and location to be revealed the day before the event. "Every gig has a distinct flavor," says Phoebe Petridis (BS Marketing '11), director of Sofar London. "Sofar makes it possible to see an indie band, jazz band, and beatboxer perform — all in one night, and all in one living room."

From living rooms and warehouses to museums, rooftops, breweries, and beyond, diverse venues and lineups are key to curating memorable experiences for guests. Of equal importance are the guests themselves.

"The most magical element of the show was how appreciative and engaged the audience [was]," Sofar investor Richard Branson wrote of attending his first Sofar gig. "It took me back to when we started Virgin Records, sitting on beanbags and drifting away with the music as we found new bands to sign and fall in love with."

Sofar Sounds allows emerging artists to connect with fans on a personal level.

It's a BYOB concert like no other, where emerging artists tell stories and talk about their musical journeys. Guests connect with fellow music fans and bands on a personal level. And when the music starts, everything else stops.

"Any other small venue or bar does not offer an experience like this for guests or musicians," Waterman says. "It gives emerging artists a chance to perform in front of a guaranteed audience full of people who will listen and appreciate the songs and the performances.

"It's definitely influencing the music community in a positive way," Waterman adds, referring to an impact that will now reach refugees, thanks to a new partnership with Amnesty International. A global event to raise awareness of the ongoing refugee crisis, Give a Home will engage 1,000 musicians for 300-plus concerts in more than 200 cities worldwide on Sept. 20, 2017.

"Music and art have always been powerful partners to the cause of justice because they share an ability to stir something deep within us," Secretary General of Amnesty International Salil Shetty said in a statement. "The shows will be an opportunity to reflect on our shared humanity and strengthen our resolve to tackle this unprecedented humanitarian challenge."

While the competition for Give a Home tickets closed Sept. 10, there are plenty of ways to connect with Sofar in a city near you. Learn more at sofarsounds.com.

By Hannah O'Regan