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