This past Saturday, I experienced the coolest thing I’ve ever done in Charlotte. I had no idea what to expect – only that I was going to a secret show, at a secret venue. Honestly, I was preparing myself for a weird and awkward night – and I was so wrong. This was my first experience with SoFar Sounds.
From the second I walked in to Yoga Warrior Studio, which served as the SoFar Sounds venue, I knew it was going to be better than I had anticipated. The stage was a section of the studio floor separated by Christmas lights. There were 30 assorted chairs throughout the listening room, with blankets and pillows on the ground for the overflow seating. People began to flow into the space in droves, right on time, with an assortment of their own food and booze. I felt the connection of this community instantly.

What is it?

While it is, on its face, a concert – it is more of an experience. There are always three artists who perform for 30 minutes, with slight intermissions in between.

Each show has three cardinal rules:

  1. No phones.
  2. No talking.
  3. You must come before the first act, and stay through the last act – there’s no arriving late or leaving early.

What these rules do is create a listening room unlike anything I’ve experienced. Everyone in the audience is there strictly for the music, and they give the artists their full attention.

How does it work?

Part of the wonder of SoFar is the exclusivity. Most shows are capped between 90 to 100 people, and the preference is to keep each show below 120. It keeps the intimacy alive.

Because of this, getting tickets is a selective process. You have to apply to be selected for each show’s tickets. If selected, you will receive an email and can purchase up to six tickets that will always cost $15. All you know when you buy the ticket is the date of the show. The artists are never revealed prior to their performance, and the location is not revealed until the Friday morning before the show.

Click here to sign up to be selected for tickets. The next show will be December 1.

Who performs?

Each show is arranged to provide a wide range of music, so that you are getting a full experience, and not just one genre. There is always at least one local artist, and often a touring artist as well. A huge part of Sofar is discovering new music – and that’s a big part of what makes it a wonderful product. Local artists are able to share their music to people who otherwise would very likely never have discovered them, and you get a night of music you very likely never would have otherwise.

Where are the venues?

Each show is at a secret, changing location. The locations range from apartments, to backyards, to bar rooftops, to tattoo parlors, to yoga studios – the list goes on and on. The accommodations are ever-changing, and they are not always set up for shows or sizes like this, so people are encouraged to bring pillows and blankets and set up their own space on the floor around the music room.

Each show is also BYOB – which makes it feel even more intimate. You can bring snacks, beer, wine, whatever your heart desires. It really makes the night feel like your own.

The history

SoFar Sounds is an international movement that started in London in 2008. Its mission was and continues to be to bring the attention back to the music, and back to the artists. Since those humble beginnings in 2008, the movement has now expanded to over 370 cities across the world. It is truly an amazing global movement.

Byron McClendon started SoFar Charlotte in March 2017. He held the first show in his own apartment. Since then, the awareness has begun to build. They have sold out their last six shows, and look forward to selling out many more.

How can I get involved?

SoFar Charlotte is looking for volunteers with special skill sets to help make each show happen. Videographers, photographers, sound engineers, and of course, hosts that would like to turn their space into a SoFar venue for the evening. I would encourage you to reach out if you are interested in getting involved in this movement.

They also are constantly looking for local musicians to perform; one of the movement’s biggest goals is to introduce the guests to new artists. It’s a really great way to get your music out to new people.

If you’re interested in getting involved – follow them on Instagram (@sofar_charlotte) and send them a DM, or you can email them at charlottenc@sofarsounds.com. I’ve been told that persistence and passion make all the difference.

Photos: Angela Weir

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Angela Weir is a settlement services trainer moonlighting as a yogi and writer. Follow her on Instagram (because she forgot to get a Twitter and now feels like it’s too late) @arweir.

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