Changing the way we listen to music …
Sofar Sounds was a relatively new ideology to me about a month ago. Started in the UK by Rocky Start, Rafe Offer, and Dave Alexander, Sofar Sounds is a new way to experience live music. Rather than be drowned out with the chatter of an active audience or lost in a sea of people, Sofar Sounds is more than a concert; they are intimate gatherings of total strangers, coming to the private home of yet another stranger, all whilst indulging in some of the most glorious live music you can find anywhere in the world. Whether discovering a brand new band or seeing favorites like Ed Shereen or Moby, the concept is simple: come to listen, stay to enjoy. In the process, a beautiful community of people is born and your soul is well fed with musicians and songwriters that take you on a journey leading somewhere exquisite.
Having never been to anything quite like Sofar Sounds creates, the invitation to delve deeper and experience it first hand was too good to pass up. Having partnered with Amnesty International, the concerts that I would be attending happened on September 20th and their purpose is one that hits close to home – especially these days. Raising money for refugees around the world and raising awareness on the importance of human rights, this collaboration is one that is beyond critical to the continual evolvement of humanity. Needless to say, 300 intimate concerts took place in 60+ countries around the world – all on the same day. In an effort to cause change and implement the value of coming together, what they’re doing is impacting us all on a global level.
I had the pleasure of attending two different Sofar events on September 20th in two separate locations. Below is the genius and soulfulness of the bands I watched.
Concert #1 | laurel canyon
Held in the beautiful home of a gracious host in Laurel Canyon, a lawn awaited, a coy pond provided ambience, and as we sat on picnic blankets under the canopy of beautiful Los Angeles trees, music filled the air with one truly divine purpose: HUMANITY. With the sound of acoustics moving all around us, it was the moments when I looked around at the new faces gazing, bodies swaying as they sat, and the universal idea that music is meant to be enjoyed that took my breath away.
HAWAI BAND | With frontman Jake Pappas at the helm, his vocal stylings are the kind that haunt you and draw you in. The band comprised of Jesse Dorman, Jared Slaybaugh, and Matt Gillen come together to create a sound that captures your ear and exposes the bare bones of the music. I loved hearing them produced and having the opportunity to attend their release party a week later in West Hollywood, but admittedly it was hearing them stripped down in the backyard of a house on Laurel Canyon that left an unforgettable impact. These four have something that belongs on a soundtrack of a film or on a TV Show. It’s got story, heart, and the emotional depth that deserves to have a visual backdrop. | www.hawaiband.com/
FLAVIA | Imagine the sultry tone of a Decca artist presented in the body of a fiercely bold, awakened female artist that takes the soul of times past and revives it with electronica and you’ll have Flavia. With vocals that seep into you in a way that makes you want to both dance and be transported into unknown galaxies, she really is someone to watch. Her tone is like silky spun poetry dancing around you and her lyrics cut to the truth, then take you away on a journey that seems magical and transparent. She has no false way about her – she is the embodiment of someone that defines what innovative renderings is all about. | www.flavia.la
MOBY | He is who I’ve listened to when having writers, seeing Moby live for the first time – in a backyard with less than fifty other people no less – was exhilarating. Showing up less the mass production, he and his band of four grabbed a mic, a guitar, a harmonica and their voices and filled the space on that summer afternoon with sounds that reminded you of just why his career has spanned as many decades as it has. Playing one of my favorites from his “18” album (“Extreme Ways” – also the opening song in Bourne Identity), listening to him without any fancy equipment – just his voice and his guitar – it really was something to witness. He playfully engaged with this modest group of strangers sitting on the grass before him and through the course of seven songs, he indulged us with his rendition of Johnny Cash’s “Ring of Fire” and the depth and tone of his voice had that same emotionally daunting effect of Cash himself. | www.moby.com
Concert #2 | silverlake
In the heart of Silverlake, we strolled up the steps of yet another gracious host who opened up his home and backyard to a group of total strangers. With bottle of wine in hand and my wonderful friend accompanying me, I sat down on the concrete step and enjoyed what would be a slew of indie musical artists whose passion and stylings were contrasting and spectacular.
BRAEVES | Comprised of Ryan Colt Levy, Derek Tramont, Thomas Killian McPhillips VII, and Scott Goldbaum, being the first time seeing them perform (and being introduced to them), it’s the tone of both the vocals of Ryan and Scott that creep through the air and into you like a seductive feeling you can’t shake. It was one song in particular that just dug into me, “Trouble”. The pitch of their vocals is reminiscent of Chris Martin in the early days with that delicate air of vulnerability and the command of conviction. Braeves has a sound that is entirely unique to them, beautiful live, making it the kind of music you expect to hear on repeat on KCRW. | www.braeves.com
LAUREN RUTH WARD | If ever I came across a soul sister in terms of a woman on fire with ferocity, Lauren Ruth Ward is it! Listening to her music is like being asked to sit beside Aretha Franklin, Janis Joplin, and Alanis Morisette and not be in complete awe. She is UNBELIEVABLE! The moment she takes the microphone, you hear this sweet and raspy tone of what sounds like a girl and then the music starts and a musical beast comes out. She may very well be my new favorite artist. Her band made up of Eduardo Rivera, Livia Slingerland, India Pascucci, and herself are simply electric. The moment she begins to sing, something magnificent happens and what you witness is art in motion. Her two songs, “Did I Offend You” and “Make Love To Myself” take you by the gut, empower you, and liberate your abandon all at once. Make sure to catch one of her shows as she was given residence with Sofar. She isn’t one to miss. Ever. | www.laurenruthwardmusic.com
ANDREW BIRD | An American violinist, singer, and songwriter, Bird’s musical renderings take you on a journey from start to finish. Something about his performance is so real, raw, honest, and telling that you trust him immediately. When he plays you’re transcended into a dimension of space and time that reimagines the idea of escapism. Between his unmistakable voice to his truly gorgeous violin playing, listening to him play and watching him get lost in the performance is the kind of thing that inspires other artists to create. | www.andrewbird.netGive a Home is a global music event being presented by Amnesty International and Sofar Sounds.
Performers around the world came together to “Give a Home” and unite people in showing solidarity with those forced to flee their homes and raise awareness of solutions to the refugee crisis. At over 300 shows across 60 countries, fans hosted intimate gigs in their homes for some of the world’s biggest music stars, refugee artists, and activists.
300+ gigs including Ed Sheeran, Esperanza Spalding, Moby performed on September 20th in respective cities around the world. Ed Sheeran’s show in D.C. was held in someone’s home at a secret location while Moby performed in Los Angeles. The location was revealed to fans on the day of the show.
The shows are in support of Amnesty International’s I Welcome refugee campaign, which mobilizes public pressure on governments to welcome refugees. Amnesty International’s research shows that 4 in 5 people around the world are open to welcoming refugees, yet governments are failing to do their part.
Sofar Sounds is a global community where guests and artists come together to experience music in an intimate and respectful setting.They have teamed up with Amnesty International to bring people around the world together. Those involved feel passionate about this project and it’s a cause deserving or all the support we can muster while uniting folks with the universal language of music!