An Evening with Sofar Sounds | Pop-up gigs with mystery performers

Posted on 02 July, 2024

Sofar Sounds, founded in 2009, attempt to “bring back the magic” of the live music experience through pop-up shows held in 400 cities worldwide.

These days, Ticketmaster rat-races and paper-cup pints define a culture of concert-going that has lost its soul, at least beyond the love you may hold for an artist you go to see. Tickets for Sofar Sounds shows, held almost nightly, are easy to obtain and offer access to an experience that reconnects with the most authentic soul of music.

Before attending Sofar Sounds shows, prospective attendees aren’t informed of the genre or identity of any of the performers. The ticket costs £24, at least for the Canada Water event a Hypercritic attended on 26th June 2024. It shows the area, but Sofar only reveal the venue the day before the show, which turned out to be the Pacific Tavern.

Close to the scheduled start time, you’ll find artists doing soundchecks and chatting with people. The lack of scary queues and ponchos provides a welcoming atmosphere and an open community feel that empowers you to take it all in.

Ace Clvrk | An R&B-rollercoaster for the heart

Fresh from Britain’s Got Talent, Ace Clvrk opened the evening with unreleased original tracks mixing R&B, soul, and pop, as well as a moving Billie Eilish cover (no tracklists are provided at Sofar events). The Manchester-born artist showed off his mesmerising voice across cuts ranging from upbeat sexy songs featuring fun call-and-response to intensely personal confessional pieces.

His performance was defined by extreme passion, both in his work and the performance of it; throughout his 20-minute set, Clvrk took the audience on an emotional journey that felt like a lifetime, in all the best of ways.

Natalie Lindi | Soul-soaked pop teasing at R&B

Perhaps most strongly influenced by guitar pop, Natalie Lindi‘s music is soulful and relatable. She is an experienced performer in open mics and festivals including the Altersonic Festival in the Netherlands and Komedia in Brighton. Her impressive vocal range elicited a raucous ovation over various unreleased cuts that carry a strong guitar-pop influence.

While he didn’t for the other performers, when the Sofar emcee took back the microphone at the end of the set, he asked Lindi about the growing influence R&B holds in the future direction of her sound. She spoke honestly about her excitement in changing direction and feeling free in her new music.

The question felt genuine and open, and unlike typical Q&A pieces, it didn’t force out a short clip or headline.

Shogun Shato | Relaxed keys, gentle bass, easy lyrics

One of the most vocal audience members, animated and enthused by Clvrk and Lindi’s sets, introduced himself as the third performer. Bringing his friends up to the stage, Shogun Shato shared witty, catchy bars over mellowed-out keys and subtle bass in that ‘chill-hop’ style.

Formerly featured on BBC Introducing and with a debut EP release Chrysalis in 2021, Shato visibly enjoyed his performance. He paused between songs to talk about the magic of Sofar events, among other musings.

These moments captured the gravity of the experience attendees shared; Sofar boasts it has no headliner, and it didn’t need one. If that event wasn’t advertising enough, regular Instagram posts keep the audience in the loop for next time.

As Shato stepped off, he tightly embraced a friend, right by the stage. That summed up the room’s energy throughout the night, and that soul is what Sofar Sounds is all about.

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