Feature by Katherine Chavez
Photos by Rudy Torres
“Space is very limited at all Sofar shows due to the intimate setting. I'm sorry to say that we cannot offer you a spot this time. However, we will let you know if there are any last minute cancellations for our show this Sunday. Thanks for your patience!”
Waitlisted. Being waitlisted is almost as awful as being flat out denied, because the process is prolonged. At least if I had been denied a ticket, I would have known immediately and been able to get over it.
Knowing how small the audience is for SoFar shows, I treated my waitlist status as a rejection. After all, who would give up their ticket for such a wonderful experience?
Sunday. 4:30 pm. Another e-mail. Subject line: “You’re Off the Waitlist For Tonight’s Show!”
After some difficulty finding the upspace, my name was checked off on the list and I entered a room of small benches and a stage set up on a rug reminiscent of my home and a black-walled background with the words “SoFar Providence” recently painted on.
Over a year ago, I started to hear about SoFar Sounds New York. Through a friend of mine who attended on of their shows, I discovered a wonderful group, Hi Ho Silver Oh, whom I later saw in a small backyard concert near my home in Los Angeles. If I could discover second hand an incredible band from a SoFar show, witnessing a show first hand must be even even better.
Things started out cozy. Sebastian Otero opened with a solo performance, and then slowly brought on more musicians to accompany him. In intimate settings like these, in which artists may feel more comfortable, performances may become very unique to the space. For instance, Otero performed one of his songs live for the first time: the first song he’d ever written. (And personally, it was my favorite.)
SoFar shows are intentionally very intimate, and they are careful to keep it this way. The group started in London, and now creates similar intimate concerts at small venues or people’s homes in cities around the world. We are now lucky to have our own branch, SoFar Providence, run by a small team of Brown students.
After fifteen minute break between sets, a group of Berklee College of Music students, known as Ripe, immediately struck the audience with energy and a serious horn section. The funk/rock group consists of seven members, and just released a new EP, Hey Hello to follow their 2013 EP, Produce the Juice. The lead singer and guitarist were never still, encouraging the audience to dance until over half the room was on their feet. The rising level of enthusiasm could be measured progressively by watching the increase in sweat that spread across the lead singer’s blue button down.
Then, to close the night, came Busty and the Bass, all the way from Montreal, Canada. I really cannot define their music genre, so I’ll give you a vague summary: Think St. Paul and the Broken Bones mixed with Eminem and a smudge of Daft Punk. Reading that over again, it sounds terrible. Neither of those artistic styles blend together in any way, shape or form, and yet Busty was somehow astounding. Currently touring around the US, they label themselves a “powerful electrosoul/hip hop collective,” made up of nine members. Another group with a strong horn section, they quickly had everyone dancing as well, playing songs from their new album, GLAM. In moments between music genres during their songs, I was at first confused and then elated, never having thought that a single group could encompass so much of the music scene. They were ambitious, and it worked.
The show on November 1st was one of a series that will continue monthly. For each show, people will apply for tickets online, and if they receive a ticket, they will be e-mailed the location and put on the guest list. This secretive location reveal is a significant part of how the shows are kept intimate.
SoFar really encourages the audience to stay for all the acts, and I’d glad they convinced me to do so.