Secret concerts for the pleasure of the curious

« I felt extremely close to the artist; I even got to chat with her about her performance and how she composes her songs. »

A quote from Theresa, a Sofar concertgoer in Vancouver

Theresa just discovered Silent St. j, one of three singer-songwriters who took turns performing at a Sofar Sounds party one weeknight in Vancouver’s Mount Pleasant neighborhood.

Like the fifty people who came to attend the show that evening, the young woman bought her place a few days earlier based on only two pieces of information: the price of the ticket and the district in which the event was going to be held.

I really like the mysterious side of the concept and the surprise it bringsunderlines Theresa.

If she received by email the address of the place 48 hours before the start of the event, she however had to wait to be in the performance hall to discover the names of the artists of the evening.

Unusual places for intimate concerts

It was in a photography studio transformed into a small concert hall that the meeting took place that evening.

The atmosphere is intimate, with carpets scattered on the floor. At the back of the room, a small stage has been improvised, decorated with light garlands. The space is made up of a small sofa and a retro television cabinet on which an electric disco ball has been placed.

Seated on the ground, the public in the “bring your own drinks and sweets” formula welcomes its first discovery. Folk singer Silent St. j begins her performance.

The artist Silentst.ja invites the public to listen to one of his songs with their eyes closed.

Photo : Radio-Canada / Victoria Kopiloff

A springboard for emerging artists

During these shows, the pleasure of discovery goes both ways: for the public, but also for the artist.

« Every gig is different. When you accept a date, you never know the programming, the atmosphere or the place. Every time I play in a Sofar event, it’s always a new experience. »

A quote from Silent St. j, singer-songwriter

The young Vancouver artist has already given several Sofar Sounds concerts. If, like all artists, she is paid only a hundred dollars per show, she takes advantage of these concerts to make her music known.

A feeling shared by the Quebec artist Malade, who gave several concerts in 2019 when she was in Vancouver.

The public continues to follow you after a Sofar concert. People are very attached to your project because it was really a unique and special experience. I really notice a difference between this public and the one who comes to see a specific artistexplains the young woman.

If Malade had at that time been contacted directly by the Sofar Sounds Vancouver teams to invite him to perform on their stages, today the company allows artists to register themselves online in order to submit their application to be part of a possible program.

Connect to a global music network

Created in 2009 in the United Kingdom, Sofar Sounds concerts are organized around the world to give emerging artists the chance to perform on stage.

Around these events, a community of artists from different musical styles has grown.

For the career of rapper Missy D from Vancouver, these Sofar Sounds concerts served as a springboard.

When I came to Vancouver, I didn’t know many people, she says. Thanks to Sofar, I also discovered other artists with whom I performed and saw how they worked. I grew up artistically with Sofar.

One of his performances was even posted on the company’s YouTube channel, which has over 1.3 million subscribers. The video was watched by netizens around the world.

I have artist friends who have gone to London and Los Angeles to do Sofar concerts. You have the opportunity to discover this network which is present all over the world. It’s a universe where you can share your music with someone who doesn’t know you, but who is there to listen to your music.

On the other hand, not all cities offer events every week like in Vancouver. Since Malade moved back to Montreal, it’s been hard for her to find Sofar Sounds shows.

I miss it! In Montreal, there are not many concerts unlike Vancouver where I could perform regularlyshe says.

A chance that Missy D wishes for her part to seize again: next summer, she hopes to redo a few concerts with Sofar Sounds Vancouver, she who has not given any more since 2020.

Let’s hope that these events will allow him to have the same career as a certain Billie Eilish or even an Angèle, who both went through Sofar Sounds concerts.

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