Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Review: Sofar Sounds - Oxford, 16th February 2013

The concept behind Sofar Sounds is a simple and yet surprisingly rare one. Hosted in living rooms around the world, audience members are asked not to talk throughout the set, and to remain until the end. It's always hard for support bands to play when half the audience are preoccupied at the bar, and so the idea of appreciating all the bands in a line-up is a much needed one. For my first Sofar Sounds, the dreaming spires of Oxford seemed like the perfect setting, with its rich music scene currently producing so many successes from rockers Foals, to folk-poppers, Stornoway.

The evening got off to a swinging start with self-proclaimed Freakadelics, Bambino dell'Oro. After 30 seconds of what seemed like complete improvisation with no apparent link between piano and drums, I was pleasantly surprised when the beat began to pick up, and a melody appeared. With no vocalist, it was a chilled start to the evening with a soprano saxophone melting into the piano and drums - refined and elegant  jazz which set the mood perfectly.

Where Bambino dell'Oro soothed, King of Cats, on the other hand, displayed an intensity which occasionally verged on the unnerving. His quiet, unassuming demeanour was in sharp contrast to the uncompromising tone of his songs and disturbing lyrics. However, the musical expertise behind the songs was impressive with catchy melodies, and accomplished guitar playing.

After such a forceful set, the dulcet tones of The Melodic relieved the tension, and despite their soft voices and gentle melodies, they never lost the attention of the audience. Melodicas appeared for the second time in the evening (having already been used by Bambino dell'Oro), prompting an anecdote about how they once forgot to take said instrument to a gig - ironic considering they were called Melodica, Melody and Me at the time. With their debut album in the works, their charmingly folky set ensured that this is a band to watch.

An intimate atmosphere was guaranteed with such a small audience and it was wonderful to feel so close to the artists, not only physically, but emotionally - the rawness of the unplugged music seemed a lot more personal and natural than in larger venues. The evening as a whole showed exactly what a gig should be like with a respectful and attentive audience, and for that, Sofar Sounds, I salute you.

For more information on how you can apply for tickets to Sofar Sounds, visit:

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