Monday, 20 October 2014

Review: Sofar Sounds Oxford

Sofar Sounds has developed a reputation for hosting gigs in unusual venues, and Friday night was no different. Held in Art Jericho, a small and intimate art gallery, it was the perfect location for an evening of acoustic music. Sofar never fails to disappoint with the bands and artists that are chosen - the organisation receives so submissions that the bands playing are sure to be of the highest calibre. 

The evening started with Duotone, a man with many instruments and a looping pedal; it was hard to believe that there was just one person playing. Starting with a cello, the music was wonderfully melancholic, appropriate for a rainy autumnal evening. Commenting on the "awkward silences" between songs, he claimed nervousness, but the set didn't seem awkward at all - in fact, the pauses between songs seemed a fitting tribute to the music - such emotional songs required silences to reflect on what had just been played. In later songs, the melodies were more upbeat - he played his cello as if in a ceilidh band with a balkan folk twist. It was a stunning opening to the evening, and he's definitely one to watch. 

Next followed Kimberly Anne whose vitality shone out with her beautiful personality and stage presence. Battling the rain pounding down on the sky lights, she turned the sound effect to her advantage, playing woeful ballads which perfectly fitted the weather outside. They weren't all sad songs though - her set contained a mixture of styles showcasing her musical ability. Sofar is known for its attentive audiences, and this proved particularly useful for Kimberly Anne who used the audience as her backing vocals on a number of songs. Giving out teabags after her set with free downloads, it was hard not to instantly warm to her. 

Tanya Wells' set brought together music from different cultures, singing Urdu alongside her mother-tongue of English. A beautiful language, Urdu seems to lend itself particularly well to music, and it was apt that one of her songs translated as 'Poetry' - the drum rhythms throughout her music danced in and out of the music in a beautifully poetic fashion. Having just returned from recording an album in the States, Wells will return to Oxford on 15th November, and is not one to miss. 

Sofar Sounds is a brilliant place to hear a whole variety of genres in one evening; the headline act, Archivist, brought a totally new sound to the night, with a healthy mix of jazz and soul. With soaring vocals weaving in and out of various instrumentation including a violin, the music was hugely atmospheric, and the expansive sound worked particularly well in the whitewashed art gallery adorned with paintings of wildlife. The band explained that it was a more acoustic setup than usual and so it'll be interesting to see how their sound is adapted when amplified. Only the fourth time the band had performed together, it was an impressive set, and a wonderful ending to the evening. 

For more information on Sofar Sounds visit
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