Whether we’ll admit it or not, we all have this romanticized idea of what live music should be. We want concerts that feel like we stumbled upon them; concerts that seem so natural and unrehearsed, that we wonder if we’re allowed to even be listening. We don’t want to be jostled around by strangers, or have our view blocked by that guy sitting in front of us. We don’t want merchandise shoved down our throats, and we certainly don’t want to have someone next to us screaming the lyrics to every song. What we’re craving is something a little more real. So, what if you were given the chance to see your next concert from the comfort of a bedroom, or the seclusion of an attic?
Since 2010, Sofar Sounds has been providing the most appreciative of music lovers with opportunities to see concerts in an entirely new way. The best part: It’s a surprise every time.
Here’s how it works: you can apply for tickets through Sofar’s website, filtering out your choices by city. When you apply for concerts, you only know the date, time, and city that they’re in. If your application for a ticket gets approved, you will receive a confirmation email about two days prior to the show, telling you the location and arrival time. The actual artists remain a mystery until you get there.
But these venues aren’t your typical sold out mega arenas. Instead, Sofar Sounds has its performances in familiar settings like homes, offices and even churches.
Each show consists of three local acts that are screened by the Sofar Sounds team beforehand. Once an artist is approved, they can perform for Sofar in any of its cities.
Tickets are typically granted to no more than 125 people, and with more than 1,000 people applying per show, you could say it’s pretty exclusive. At performances, the audience sits close together and is encouraged to be respectful of the music. No one is screaming or pushing. Instead, Sofar concerts bring us back to a time where music was simply music, and everything else was just secondary.
Since its inception, Sofar Sounds has exploded into almost 300 cities worldwide. In 2017, Sofar will add the city of Syracuse to its extensive list. Spearheaded by Syracuse University junior Jessica Berenson, Sofar Sounds will give SU students a new way to experience music.
Berenson, an advertising major, had her first Sofar Sounds experience this summer, after receiving free tickets to a show from her internship.
In the course of one night, she was exposed to performances ranging from experimental pan playing, to the simplistic perfection of an artist and his guitar.
“I was amazed by the fact that you go and you don’t know anyone, but everyone is there for the same reason,” Berenson said.
Berenson thought Syracuse would be the perfect place to introduce these secret, intimate house concerts, so she decided to email Sofar on a whim.
Since getting the go-ahead to bring Sofar Sounds to Syracuse, Berenson has been tirelessly working on scouting out potential artists and venues.
For her, the motivation is simple.
“I want to create a larger community that is very welcoming to all kinds of students,” Berenson said. “It’s not going to be the type of show that you have to know people in order to get in. I hope it turns into an alternative way of doing things.”
This new way of going out at night won’t just benefit students searching for something to do, but also the budding scene of Syracuse artists looking to get their start.
While Sofar Sounds does not pay artists to perform, donations are collected at the end of each show, and artists are given an edited video of their performance.
Berenson’s end goal is to have a show or two a month by the end of next semester. She is encouraging students to reach out to her and get involved, whether it’s for playing, hosting or volunteering.
“I’m so excited about bringing this to Syracuse,” Berenson said. “Sofar has this ability to really foster the whole community.”