Appleton has recently been added to the 300-plus cities that host Sofar Sounds and is set to have its first concert later this month. The unique concert series is built around encompassing many types of performance—musical and not—and emphasizing the importance of live shows.
Junior Arielle Kaye, an integral part in organizing Appleton’s Sofar, started the close connection she now has with Sofar Sounds by attending many concerts in Chicago. “I love how it really encourages people to go outside of what they are typically listening to. Someone who goes to a Sofar is usually someone who wants to engage with their local arts, someone who wants to meet new people.”
So how does Sofar grab all sorts of people like this? Each concert is completely secret—when you buy your ticket, you have not only no idea where it will be, but no idea who will be playing as well. Each show features short, stripped down sets from a few different artists. They are most likely local musicians, but touring artists also participate, spreading the talents of all sorts of creative individuals.
“I just really, really love the community. It is really supportive, and it really gives you a chance to showcase your talents in front of 60 random people every time you perform,” junior Bernard Lilly shared. The singer-songwriter performed at his first Sofar in Chicago this past break. “I think that is the coolest thing—just seeing how your music and how your style influences people who probably never would have an opportunity to see you play. The audiences are very diverse and it is just a really good time.”
If you go to Sofars in Appleton, it is entirely possible you will hear sets from fellow students, but the true wonder comes from experiencing talent unknown to you and meeting audience members you most likely would not interact with in any other context. The importance of a Sofar community blooming in Appleton stretches everywhere. It can give aspiring student musicians places other than campus to perform, but it will also continue to bridge the gap between Lawrence and the rest of Appleton.
“There is a connection to the music. It is really silent—you are not on your phone, you are listening to the music. It is that very electric shared experience with the audience and with the artists themselves, and I feel like that is just such a unique experience,” frequent Sofar attendee and freshman Emily Richter said. She has been to Sofars as far as Amsterdam, London and Tokyo, as well as some in the Midwest. “To really go for the music is a whole different experience, and I just feel like I have not felt that replicated anywhere else for sure.”
Appleton’s first Sofar show will be Friday, Jan. 27. Tickets are $15, but those interested must apply first at https://www.sofarsounds.com/appleton . If you are chosen, you will be able to purchase tickets and the venue information will be sent to you a day before the concert.