Updated: Jan 21
These days, we’re so wrapped up in our phones that we forget to stop, breathe and take in the beauty that’s around us. When you attend a concert, what’s the first thing you do once the artist hits the stage? You pull your phone out to take a ton of photos, videos, Snapchats, IGTV videos, etc. Wouldn’t it be nice if we had an intimate experience with music again? Don’t you want that old thing back?
Rafe Offer did. So, he invited 8 people to enjoy an intimate live music experience in his home back in 2009. Once he realized how powerful this setting was, it easily became an international sensation. I had the pleasure of attending my first Sofar experience this past Sunday in Fort Lauderdale, Florida and let me tell you, I missed this. I missed the good vibe, the community and the feeling of every lyric and sound flowing through my veins. You don’t realize a good thing until it’s gone, right?
Here’s how it works. You go to their website and treat yourself by signing up to be informed of the next gig in the city near you. I’d suggest setting up an account on the site and updating your profile, as you’ll need that information to be accurate. After you get your profile together, you register for the next intimate experience in your city and that’s it! If you’re chosen off the waiting list, you’ll be sent an email about tickets. Purchase how many you need to and get ready for the time of your life.
What I love about this concept is the secrecy. If you’re a movie buff like me, you may have seen Nick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist. While it’s not exactly like the movie’s concept, I love that the location is 100% unknown until the day before. This adds a little element of surprise, as you never know where you might end up! Will it be in a café you never knew you needed (lookin’ at you, Café Collective), will you be in a museum, outside, in someone’s home, on a rooftop? The options are endless! Who will perform? Who will be there? You won’t know the artists until they walk out in front of you and give you their heart with the stroke of a guitar. Before the show started, we were asked to not talk during the performance and to keep phone use at a minimum. While it’s alright to take a photo or two, the main point of this was to be in the moment.
The coolest café for entrepreneurs called Café Collective hosted my experience. I could feel the artistic aesthetic as soon as I walked in. This is due to the phenomenal layout and concept of the location. Upon arriving, I heard someone angelically singing about her mother being her rock. Immediately, I resonated with the lyrics, as my own mom is a powerhouse. My friend and I silently sat down in awe. When this beautiful woman with the voice of what I’m sure God sounds like, stopped singing to thank us for being so polite just so she can tell us it was “just a sound check," we knew we had made the right decision on attending.
Her presence was powerful, calm and sweet, and her name was Inez Barlatier. She walked back in front of the crowd as the show began to start. Everyone was seated, talking to each other about their past SoFar experiences, but as soon as she stood in front of us, the room fell silent. Adjusting her two mics, she gave us a smile and asked if we were ready. We weren’t. She opened her mouth to deliver the entire room a dose of goosebumps. I closed my eyes to feel her lyrics and realized I was witnessing a woman who had everything it takes to become a worldwide sensation. Performing 3 songs, I was ready to give my last coins to support her! Once her set was done, I walked up to her to see if there was an album I could buy that night, but she stated it’d be released a little later in the year. If there’s ever an underground artist recommendation you should listen to, it’s this one. Her voice was pure, and she had made a new fan that evening.
To start off a show with such an artist, I wasn’t sure how someone could go on after Inez. That’s when Gui Anna and Peter took the stage. The pair sat down to let us know that no matter what, we were loved by God and that they were there to share that kindness. Being that I believe in God but am not religious, I wasn’t sure what to expect and that’s where I messed up. She was a Black woman on a mission, so how could I not expect excellence? Peter started to play the guitar as though it were his last show. Gui Anna opened her mouth and belted out a voice that we all needed to hear. Singing 4 songs and having a mini dialogue in between, we were all overjoyed at how beautiful she was inside and out. She hit high notes so effortlessly that I was sure the couple behind me was ready to put their beer down and change their ways. She and Peter had us HOOKED.
At this point, I was excited to see the third act, as I understood the artists performing at this event were no ordinary beings. And that’s when we all saw him. Royce Lovett, a Black man who harbored the kindest smile with a head full of dreads. As soon as he stepped in front of us, he explained that he just goes with the flow of things. While he had one song he was going to perform, he had no idea what the other two were. “Well that’s a twist,” I thought. Leaving it all “Up for Love” and having us sing the chorus of his song, the crowd went wild! All night long the group of people I sat with had taken in the best kind of vibe. Having the experience get even better came as a surprise! We knew this guy was the perfect way to wrap up the show, as his energy was contagious. Once the first song was done, he knew we were just the right crowd to try out two new songs he had written just last week. He kicked off his shoes, turned the microphone off and went full acoustic. Full of crowd interaction, finger snaps, head nods and laughs, he made sure we were all fans by the end of the night.
These 3 acts, along with the organizers of the event had me reeling. You don’t get an experience like this every day. When you buy a concert ticket, you know what to expect. Yelling, phones out, crowded setting and bathroom runs that seem like forever because you’re sitting on the other end of the stadium. I walked into Café Collective and felt a sense of love and community. I felt a connection with everyone there, as we were all there for the artist. For the music. For the experience. We were there because we were missing something, and we left having found that something to fill the void. Sofar is a gift that keeps on giving every month, and you’d be a fool if you didn’t give it a try. Choose954 made sure to promote this event to perfection, Sofar made sure to bring the vibe and Café Collective provided everything else in between. The community had to come together for this event to happen, and that’s truly what it’ all about.
Have I sold you, yet? Don’t wait until October 13th to treat yoself (shoutout to all the Parks & Recreation fans). With over 10,000+ shows and being in more than 400+ cities, I’m sure you’ll be able to attend this experience in a city near you. Go out there, support the artist and grow with them. During intermissions, get to know the people around you. Cherish that human connection, because we’ve somehow lost that along the way. Luckily, Sofar has our backs.
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