World Music Day: A Secret Concert in a Living Room in Delhi

World Music Day: A Secret Concert in a Living Room in Delhi


Cameraperson(s): Abhishek Ranjan, James Kannathara
Video Editor(s): Ashish McCune, Prashant Chauhan

When was the last time you attended a live music performance and actually paid attention? Let's be honest, live performances have mostly become an excuse for us to socialise – the music takes a backseat as we’re distracted by phone calls, chit-chat, and even the sound of cutlery.

I woke up to this reality after experiencing something completely different – an intimate concert in a stranger’s living room, with 60-odd fellow music lovers, put together by Sofar Sounds.

Sounds From A Room: The Venue

When I walked in to the venue, a man and a woman were moving a centre table away from the living room, while two others pushed a couch against the wall.

If not for the custom-made posters – courtesy illustrators from NIFT, New Delhi – it was hard to believe that a concert would happen there in less than an hour.

 Gliding Arc’s Aditya Balani starting his act.
Gliding Arc’s Aditya Balani starting his act.
(Photo Courtesy: Aryaman Dixit Photography) 

When the time came, the chit chat died down. People sat on the rugs, crowdsourced cushions (people had brought them from home) and the couches – all of them paying complete attention to the artistes.

Sofar venues can be anything from an apartment rooftop, an empty garage, a basement, or even your living room and bedroom.

Tanya, my friend, volunteers for Sofar, and she was looking for a place to host the gig. I work in the music business. So I was like ‘gig at my place? Sounds great’. 
Aakash Moitra, Host

While the location definitely makes way for a more intimate set-up, what adds to the charm is the mystery surrounding it all.

The organisers keep the venue a secret until a day before the gig.

That is, of course, assuming you can get on the guest list – if at all.

Getting on the Guest-list

How to get in?

Just login to their website, pick your city from the 400-plus options in the drop-down menu, see if there is a Sofar event happening there, and apply to attend.

Simple, right? Well. Not quite.

Out of the approximately 600 people who apply for each gig – the average application figures as stated by the organisers in New Delhi – only a handful get to attend the event.

Timing is key and ideally, you should register right after a gig is announced on the page. This is exactly why my first attempt ended in failure.

My profile was shortlisted but my failure to RSVP to the mail in 20 minutes meant that the show had already been sold out and I had to apply again and wait another month to get in on the next show.

Could I make it? Nope.
Could I make it? Nope.
(Photo Courtesy: Sofar Screengrab)
Preference is given to first-timers, rather than people who have already experienced a Sofar show. It is to ensure that new people are exposed to the intimate gig concept.
Raghav Srivastava, Volunteer

The other way to get in on a Sofar gig is if you are accompanying someone else who is already on the guestlist.

The Performance

An average Sofar show is two hours long, with three acts or artistes in the line-up. The names of the performers are kept a secret until you reach the venue.

They vary in genre and sound, and range from artistes as famous as Ed Sheeran to fresh talents who you will probably hear for the first time (and look up on Youtube later).

My Sofar experience opened me up to a world of beautiful and mellow acoustics.

Chayan and Smiti performing with Nawa on the cello.
Chayan and Smiti performing with Nawa on the cello.
(Photo Courtesy: Aryaman Dixit Photography)
There are clubs and other venues for live performances, where the artiste is performing while the audience is eating, drinking, talking, etc. But Sofar is an intimate concert with 30, 40, 50 people you are playing to. You can really have a dialogue and connection here that you can’t with a regular show. 
Aditya Balani, Gliding Arc, Artiste

At a Sofar gig, artistes have two packages to choose from: either go for a flat fee structure (which is not available in most destinations) or opt for a high quality video that the team produces for the artiste and uploads on the Sofar Youtube channel, opening it up for a global audience.

The customary Sofar Group photo at the end of the show.
The customary Sofar Group photo at the end of the show.
(Photo: Abhishek Ranjan/The Quint)

Before you sign up, here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • If you don’t make it at the first attempt, try again.
  • Some Sofar gigs have a nominal gate fee. Check the information against each gig before applying.
  • Once the music begins, talking, texting, etc is not appreciated.
  • Most shows are hosted by fellow music lovers who expect you to respect and maintain their space.

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