Sofar Sounds: Songs from a Room

By Priyadarshani Shrestha | Photos by Jyoti Shrestha, Sofar Sounds


As I entered the warmly lit room filled with people standing or sitting cross–legged on the floor with their glowing faces facing the majestic artists from San Francisco, I couldn’t have imagined that the shady staircase that I had climbed on to the penthouse above ‘Curilo’ in Lazimpat would have landed me in the magical land of music.

As the strumming of chords reverberated within the cozy walls of the apartment, the lead vocalist/poet rapped words that took alliteration to the next level. That night flew by with many original compositions of Watsky, Kanta Dab Dab, Jacek Chmiel and Damoon Yaghoobi – the Duo and Kalpana Pu; but it was their music that spoke to me rather than their names.

Sofar Sounds is a mission-driven event that takes place in 403 cities worldwide with an objective of hosting intimate gigs. Held in unique venues—like someone’s living room or an antique shop—a Sofar gig typically features three artists, playing four songs each. Every lineup is specially formed to give the selective pool of audience a diverse show and also to give artists equal attention. Therefore, each Sofar is small, and typically features three diverse acts, with no headliner.

Sofar Sounds was founded to bring back the magical experience of live events that has been lost. In 2009, Rafe Offer and Rocky Start invited some friends over to their London flat for a low-key intimate gig. Eight people gathered in their living room to listen to live music performed by their friend and musician Dave Alexander. They shared a drink and sat on the floor, while attentively listening to the music.

Quickly, what started as a hobby in London spread into a global community for artists and audiences to come together in unique and welcoming spaces – with an added element of surprise – to share, discover, create and, hopefully make a friend or find their new favorite band along the way. Since December 2017, Sofar has finally come to Kathmandu happening in quiet and subdued venues of strong cultural and artistic values.

• Guests
One must first send an online application for a ‘free ticket’ up until five days before the show. At this stage, only the date and time is revealed; so, wannabe guests would not know the name of bands that are going to perform.

Then, if you’re among the few chosen to attend the event, you’ll receive an email asking for your confirmation three days ahead of the event. After you’ve locked in your seats, you’ll receive an email disclosing the location and a link to a map of to the location the next day. When you’ll get there, you’ll realise that you’re sharing the moment in an amazing setting with group of extraordinary people. You won’t find out who’s playing until you get there, so join the event with an open mind. You may even discover your new favourite artist!

• Hosts
Hosts are the one who are willing to open their spaces and let the music in. They must apply on the website giving details about their city and the neighbourhood they live in, and the capacity of the space. If the application is successful, they will hear back from someone from the local team within a few weeks.

• Artists Accepting local artists performing any kind of music, spoken word poetry, comedy and even dance, all submissions on the website is listened to by a diverse and knowledgeable team of reviewers to ensure biasfree evaluation. This allows them to discover and promote the best new music and some undiscovered gems. So if you are an artist, you might wa nt to apply on their website!

• Volunteers
Volunteers are the driving force of Sofar Sounds. These are the individuals who work tirelessly to find hosts, organise and decorate the setting for the show, discover artists, run events and do photography, video, and audio. They are the ones who transform everyday spaces into a captivating venue.

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