Sofar is a global network of artists and music lovers who are bringing the magic back to live performance, and Colchester, with its history of creativity, is helping it thrive.
Sofar Sounds started in 2009 when 3 friends, Rafe, Rocky and Dave, attended a gig and found that, with people chatting loudly, clanging glasses and holding up their phones, no-one was really paying much attention to the music. Certain that they weren’t the only ones who went to a performance in the hope of actually listening to the music, they decided to host an cosy gig in a living room in London. Eight people turned up to just sit and listen. At the next show more people turned up, and at the next more still... and now Sofar is in 344 cities around the globe.
Stephen Dekker felt Colchester would be appreciative of the Sofar concept and he set up the Colchester branch just six months ago, with a small team of volunteers united by a passion for music. In January this year their launch show was held. Since then they have held monthly intimate gigs in unconventional venues to an audience of around 50-150. The acts usually play stripped back versions of their sets and this allows them to do something different and be creative – at one show for example, Animal Noise used pots and pans instead of a drum kit.
The Sofar ethos is about bringing respect back to music and the artists. The audience play their part by being attentive during the show and following the acts they like on social media, the artists provide great quality music, and the hosts collaborate by offering their space - which could be a cafe, an office, living room, rooftop or garden. Colchester Sofar’s second show, for example, was hosted by Best Days store and saw 50-odd people sitting on the floor of the shop, surrounded by awesome vintage clothes. It epitomises what the Sofar community is all about. The hosts offered a promotional discount just for the evening on all their items and Sofar supplied the music and invited the guests.
That sense of community and mutual respect is the spirit of Sofar globally. If he needs advice for a show or an act to fill a spot, Stephen says, everyone pulls together, and the Colchester team is no exception. While they all have their roles, like venue scout, MC, artist liaison or videographer, when something needs doing, everyone mucks in.
And this inclusivity extends to the guests – Colchester Sofar’s next show is on the 25th May and, says Stephen, everyone and their grandma is welcome. They even introduced a new born baby to the joys of good live music at one gig! The music is always diverse, and because Sofar strive to showcase the best up and coming acts, locally and globally, it’s always great quality.
To attend the next event, apply for tickets at the Sofar Colchester website and you’ll be informed of the secret location the day before the gig! How exciting!
And Stephen and the team are always looking for unique places to host shows, so if have a space that could hold between 50 - 150 people, please get in touch on firstname.lastname@example.org