Sofar Sounds Brings Hyperlocal, Secret Shows

Sofar SoundsJake Wesley Rogers at a Sofar Sounds show. Photo by Josiah Parry.

Sofar Sounds, a network of intimate concerts in more than 400 cities worldwide, is pushing a new type of music experience—one that is personal rather than distant, focused rather than chaotic.

“Our founding principle [is] respecting music, listening to musicians, supporting them as much as we can, and giving them the focus and attention that a traditional space or gig won’t give them,” Sofar Sounds Boston Director Matt Brooks says.

Here’s how it works: audience members get $20 tickets to secret shows. All they’re told is the neighborhood of the show; the exact location is given a few days in advance, and the lineup isn’t announced until the performance itself.

The shows can essentially be anywhere. Many are in people’s homes, but others are in spots like art galleries, coffee shops, or coworking spaces. Shows are BYOB, unless they’re at a place with a liquor license.

Sofar Sounds tries to strike a balance between the local and the global—while organizers strive to highlight local, up-and-coming bands whenever possible, audience members might be traveling from anywhere in the world and, having seen Sofar Sounds concerts at home, chosen to attend one on their travels. In this way the series hopes to build a “global community,” Brooks explains.

“For me, what makes it the most special is knowing the impact we have on our community side—whether that’s from the guest perspective, being able to attend around the world and have a family waiting for you, a way to support local music, but also from the artist perspective, having ways to access audiences that really care in any city in such an open, welcoming environment,” Brooks says.

Each act is paid $100 for a 20-minute set, and artists can sell their merchandise at the shows. When Sofar Sounds is filming its shows it releases a video of one song to each artist as additional compensation.

There will be a Sofar Sounds show in Somerville on Aug. 18. For tickets, visit the Sofar Sounds website or download its app.