By Anita Stewart, Journalist, and Chyrisse Tabone, Photographer, ROCK AT NIGHT TAMPA
August 3, 2018 at the Hooch and Hive
Sofar Sounds was founded in Shoreditch, England in 2009 as a way to focus and showcase musical artists. The organization is a global music events startup company and calls itself a community where artists, hosts and music lovers can all come together to curate shows with secret lineups and undisclosed venues. No one is a “headliner” or “opener.” All artists are considered equal and can also include comedians, dancers, spoken word artists and much more.
Some of the most well known and loved musical acts right now have had their beginnings at Sofar Sounds shows. Some of them include: Ed Sheeran, Leon Bridges, James Bay, Alice Phoebe Lou, Wolf Alice, Aurora, Jain, First Aid Kit and many more. A common saying with the Sofar Sounds Tampa’s team is “you never know who you might see at a Sofar Sounds show.” Music lovers purchase their tickets online before knowing where the venue is or who is playing. They find out the address and lineup the day of the show via email. All of that adds to the excitement of attending a Sofar Sounds show and makes the concept totally unique.
Once an artist has played a Sofar Sounds show they can then apply to perform at any other Sofar Sounds city without being vetted or approved by Sofar Sounds. They are then known as “Sofar Alumni.” As of this writing, there are over 400 city teams world-wide.
Commercial venues are used, unusual venues are considered such as churches, warehouses, gardens, art galleries, yoga studios, but the ideal venue is someone’s living room.
Friday, August 3rd, 2018 everyone came together and did another one of these sometimes monthly or bimonthly shows in Tampa. The show started with a local Tampa mainstay, Sydney Marteliz who had played at a Rock the Park event at Curtis Hixon Park the night before. Blestian is a husband and wife duo and electronic/synth band with a loyal fan base from St. Petersburg. Royce Lovett is a Sofar alumni who has done shows everywhere and may consider starting a Sofar Sounds in his hometown. He lives in Tallahassee when he is not touring and traveling.
With a storm brewing outside, the audience was ready to hear some amazing music. The show started with the heartfelt acoustic songs, a few covers and some originals by Sydney. She has impressive volume and a wide vocal range and also sings backup with a local band, Smokey and the Angels. Blestian is a rocking electronic band with Matt Alexander, songwriter and guitarist and Halsey Alexander who plays a sampler and drum machine. Their home base is the Black Crow Coffee Roasters in St. Petersburg as they are also baristas there. Check out the Kickstarter for their tour starting September 2018 HERE.
Royce Lovett‘s offerings were beautiful, acoustic songs with peace and love lyrics and spiritual imagry. He is a Christian without being preachy. His stage presence had him connecting with the audience and they soon were singing and clapping along. A crowd favorite was “Up With Love.” “Music can motivate you to change, get into your mind and into your soul,” Royce says. “It’s a ripple effect from one place to another.”
Sofar Sounds is a great way to get to know other music lovers, to explore sounds you have not heard before and it also connects you with those indie artists that you might not see online or hear in the clubs. Sofar Sounds Tampa curated their first show in June of 2017. You can see more info, connect with the team, volunteer, buy tickets or apply to play or host a show at the link HERE. The next show is on August 29th, 2018 and it will be at a private residence so seating is limited.