Sofar Sounds: Turning everyday spaces into concert venues

SPH Brightcove Video
Attendees do not know who is playing or what kind of music to expect. In fact, they find out details only two days before the event happens. But they turn up anyway – after hearing about these "secret" concerts from friends on social media.

It's one of Singapore's best kept secrets - an exclusive monthly concert that's free to attend.

The catch? Attendees do not know who is playing or what kind of music to expect, until two days before the event happens.

Founded in London, Sofar Sounds is a community dedicated to bringing intimate gigs to people. It has since spread to more than 400 cities around the world, and is gaining popularity in Singapore.

"We curate and create intimate gigs about once a month, in a space that could be anywhere from someone's home, to a garage, to a photography studio," said Mr Terence Yeo, City Leader of Sofar Sounds Singapore.

Together with a team, the 32-year-old plans these concerts months ahead of time, coordinating the location, performers and equipment needed for the session.

The shows are usually made up of three acts, carefully curated to suit the chosen venue. Performers are chosen by seeking out artists or looking through the portfolios sent in by musicians who want to play at a show. The curation of each gig only takes into consideration the musicians' original songs, much to the delight of local artists.

"I think it's great," said performer Krysta Joy, 20, a student at Lasalle College of the Arts. "It gives me a place to be able to share my stories instead of telling my stories through someone else's songs."

The gigs are kept free for the audience. Performers are not paid for their troubles, venue owners do not expect rent and equipment is either borrowed or provided free-of-charge by the venue. In fact, these concerts are organised by unpaid volunteers, motivated by their desire to support the local music scene.

"We always argue that there is no talent here, or that the art scene is not very alive in Singapore," said Mr Yeo. "But it is alive. You just have to look for them in the right places."

Correction note: An earlier version of this article misspelt Mr Terence Yeo's name. We are sorry for the error.

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