By Chloe Holt
Last night, seated on the dusty floor of an unknown warehouse in Kirkstall, I attended a Sofar Sounds (Leeds) gig. As it was a Christmas special, their last event of the year in fact, the atmosphere was as warm as the wine I’d quickly purchased from Aldi (thank God for BYOB) and the audience was entranced by three very different, yet nonetheless special, acts. All of them Leeds-based, the first was a quintet jazz band, Yaatri, who were introduced as having vibes of Scandinavian Jazz within their music. I must admit, whilst I have a very varied music taste, this niche genre is not on my radar (let alone my Spotify Discover Weekly), so I was ominous but intrigued. Their female singer encapsulated all things nymph-like, with her floaty hair and ethereal singing – her voice had range that Mariah Carey would be jealous of, I’d never heard anything like it (both her voice, and the music). Unfortunately, I was too engrossed to take any photos of them, however I can confirm that, no, Scandinavian Jazz is not to my typically rock-y taste, but it was utterly relaxing and definitely got me in the mood for some mulled wine.
After a short break, we were then introduced to indie-rock band Talkboy, who performed an acoustic version of their recently released EP. Alongside their rock version I’m Dreaming of a White Christmas (music to my ears, let me tell you), their set, composed of six songs, was a dream. I loved their sound and their harmonies, and now I want to find out what they sound like when they’re a bit heavier and not so acoustic. This performance gave me all the Fleetwood Mac vibes – which is never a bad thing. Their energy on stage made me forget about how numb my bum had gone from being sat on a hard, wooden floor and I was bopping along to every song. Christmassy and fun, just what I was in the mood for.
Finally, Tallsaint. She describes herself as having an electronic feel to her music, but this set was stripped back, to a synth and some accapella, courtesy of her incredible voice and the three other women she had accompany her. It was unusual as she (and the others) only used the microphone when she was talking to us but stepped back a good metre or so to perform. Heartfelt and personal lyrics alongside, my personal favourite, the synchronised choreography, was nothing short of emulating her idols, the Spice Girls. Her sleek bob definitely put her in the running for the next Posh Spice.
So, what is Sofar? Known for its secret gigs and intimate shows, it’s an organisation created with the love for music and the annoyance of not being able to truly appreciate the artist in mind. Initiated, literally, in 2009 in the living room of its founders (Rafe Offer, Rocky Start, Dave Alexander), the group skyrocketed and now hosts in over 444 cities all around the world. It’s an amazing platform for local up-and-coming artists to perform an, albeit short yet ardent, set. I first went to one just shy of two years ago, hosted in the Ollie Quinn glasses shop in Leeds city centre for International Women’s Day. I saw three great female artists perform, while being allowed to try on glasses: it was wonderful. So, when the chance for tickets arose again this time, of course I was going to attend. You simply sign up, apply for tickets, and if you are successful you pay a mere £10 (£7 with student discount) and are emailed the venue 24 hours before. It could be in someone’s house or garden; a pub; outdoors; or even a random warehouse in Kirkstall (called Cry Havoc). If you haven’t already, I would definitely recommend signing up because it’s a great initiative to be a part of, whether you go solo, with friends, or on a date, it’s a guaranteed good time in a place you wouldn’t go to otherwise.
To sign up and see what’s on in your city: https://www.sofarsounds.com/