by Holli Stephens
A stranger’s living room is an unlikely place to hold an official concert. But the concept behind Songs from a Room otherwise known as Sofar Sounds—featuring up-and-coming artists in the most intimate room of a household on behalf of music, brings the artist/musician relationship to a new level. The non-profit organization got its start in England and has since expanded to over 50 cities in and outside the US.
A very confused crowd began to form in the crevices of the Guiseppe’s living area around 7:50pm. No one but the organizers were aware of the lineup until the night of the show and even the location was kept a secret until a few days before. One lady who had found a spot on a nearby couch commented how she had been trying to snag tickets for the past three months and was unable until now.
The first of five performers was BFA (Bachelors of the Fine Arts) who are an indie rock band from New York City. They had to start their set late because of van trouble that was hindering them from getting to their next gig in Nashville, Tennessee as part of their “Beginner’s Luck Tour”.
Baby-faced lead singer Will Cole carried such a husky voice that made him sound twice his age and added a punk element to the band’s sound. Each group would play at least four songs and BFA’s consisted of their most popular, “Skytanic” and “80s Night”. The band was almost shocked when with the audience responded to their last song, “Big Plans” with wanting an encore. Cole said, “I love how weird this is!” before playing their final song “Girlfriend Breakdown”.
Originally from Rochester, NY, singer-songwriter and guitarist Micah seemed at ease playing his first song “For Someone Else”. “Here comes audience participation number one. You guys are scared and I get that.” He joked as he got the audience to join in on the chorus.
He has recently released his official album, Just A little Heartbreak, and has been touring from coast to coast. When asked about his musical influences, Micah stated, “If I could pigeonhole it, Ray LaMontagne with John Legend.” With his frequent love song lyrics and mellow style it’s hard not to agree. The rest of his rest consisted of “Wayside”, “Just A little Heartbreak” and “Down With It”.
Two guitars, a cajón, and some bells are all City of the Sun need to dominate a space. Based in New York City, the trio dabbles with Spanish folk, blues, and rock. They have the ability to sound so earthy and tranquil but quickly get into these intense strumming sessions where guitar duo Zach Para’s and John Pita’s fingers go a mile a minute to produce the beautifully complicated riffs found in all their songs. The cover of The XX’s “Intro” was a crowd favorite as the band developed their own personal take on it, turning it into pure acoustic sound. Again, the crowd insisted on an encore and the band was just as if not more surprised as BFA. “Well if you guys insist. You guys are alright. Philly’s alright!” were Road’s final words before the trio started “Summer Child”.
The short intermission was met with a shift in genre as rapper Kuf Knots and his band took the stage along with singer-songwriter and guitarist, Joe Miller. The duo effortlessly combined elements of jazz, folk, and hip-hop into one 20 minute set of pure music genius. “You need to find a peaceful place within all the chaos.” Knots explained as he began to rap “Clock Ticking”. He was accompanied by Margel Overton on keyboards and Ken Pendergast on upright bass. The group liked to keep the vibe light and ended their set with the upbeat track “Dude, Where’s My Whisky?”. Knots laughed when I compared his lyricism to that of Slug from Atmosphere or Lupe Fiasco, but nodded in appreciation.
Alternative rock band Pine Barons was the last of the lineup after just playing at First Unitarian with The Districts the night before. The band seemed more at home in this intimate setting, sporting a banjo and accordion for specific tracks. A team of multi-instrumentalists, their set consisted of tracks “Chamber Choir”, “Melon Tree”, “Smile America”, “Since I’ve Been Away” and “Don’t Believe What They Told You”.
I caught up with guitarist Brad Pulley after the set as he reflected on the evening: “It was a pleasure being here and we had a good time. It was a good house until we started yelling ‘Jesus Christ!’ in our last song.”