Sofar Sounds: Chicago’s Best Kept Secret Concert Series

Photo by Carlos James //

For a fierce super-hipster like myself, my philosophy has always been the less people who know about a band the better. Mostly because it usually means smaller venues, less polluted music and more dedicated fans.

Always on the hunt to find my next favorite band, I couldn’t believe that one of the coolest music happenings in Chicago flew entirely under my radar. Thanks to the hilarious LA based comedian/musician Morgan Jay, I discovered Chicago’s best kept secret.

Originating in London, Sofar Sounds is a network of live, intimate performances that are hosted in over 376 cities. From tiny apartment living rooms to spacious bar rooftops, Sofar unites musicians and music lovers wherever they can find a space.

sofar

After signing up, choosing the date I wanted to attend, getting selectively picked and purchasing a ticket, I attended my first Sofar show. With the exact venue address and band names not being revealed until the day of, Sofar adds a fun element of mystery to concert going.

Upon arrival to the Mag Mile space, I was met by 50 strangers sitting cross-legged on the floor drinking various BYOB beverages. The show started just as the sun set over Lake Michigan that sat just outside the office windows.

Not only did I get to see three amazing and completely different artists, I attended on the night they announced it was their 300th show in Chicago. The entire experience was visceral from start to finish and I encourage everyone to hit up a show.

Even a super-hipster like me couldn’t keep this secret. And that’s saying something.

-SP

*******

The Regular

oscarAll photos by Catalina Florea

Oscar of The Regular knows a thing or two about bringing the folk. Perched atop a single bass drum with attached tambourines, The Regular was less “another-acoustic-guitar-guy” and way more “one-man-band.” His sweeping, high-pitched vocals (reminiscent of Wesley Schultz from The Lumineers) is what really set him apart though. He treated us to a song called “Ashes” that he hadn’t played in front of many audiences before and a song that he told us he wrote THAT DAY called “Falling Down.” The impressive multi-instrumentalist is currently working on his next album and doesn’t have too many shows planned at the moment. Stay tuned to his Spotify or social to keep up to date.

 

BEATBoX SAX

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It’s almost impossible nowadays to say you’ve seen an artist that doesn’t remind you of absolutely anyone else. Derek Brown of BEATBoX SAX accomplishes this and then some. The scintillating saxophonist somehow combined the breathy art of beat boxing with a bizarre form of finger picking in his America’s Got Talent type act. Performing both originals and classics like “Stand By Me” and “Ain’t No Sunshine,” the highlight for me was his rendition of “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” where he casually dropped his cell phone playing a recording of his father singing into the BELL OF HIS HORN. Brown gives new meaning to the term novelty act in a very, very good way.

 

Manwolves

manwolves

Making their Sofar debut, Manwolves is one awesomely mismatched band of misfits. From their sound to their hairstyles, the Chicago sextet was a great ending to the night. Sound-wise, think if Mac Miller became the lead singer of The Dirty Heads. Awesome. Hair-wise, think curly afro, ginger buzz cut and bleach blonde coif. Wild. Playing all originals, the soulful, surf rap group made it hard to pick a favorite song. I also couldn’t decide who I liked more during the performance; the trumpet player who I did not expect to sound that fucking good for being that young or the wolf t-shirt wearing guitarist playing a bass bigger than his body. Manwolves’ live solo shows tend to get hype so make sure you see them live if you like rowdy shows.

-Stacey P.

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