SOFAR SOUNDS MANCHESTER
Before I write about a gig I played for Sofar Sounds last week, I wanted to give a quick mention to the Music Awards of Staffordshire and Cheshire which was also held in the same week.
Although I didn’t win Best Solo Act (of which I was nominated for), the night was still an amazing event, bringing all local musicians and the public who support these musicians together. To even have been nominated in the first place made me feel extremely lucky and I was happy just to have been a part of it. I want to thank all the people who took the time to vote for me and spread the word, and to the people who continually support the music scene, because I can say on behalf of all local musicians that we highly appreciate it.
Also, look how cool this vinyl is! It even has my name on it!
Sofar Sounds Manchester
Now, let’s fast forward to Valentine’s Day. I was contacted by Sofar Sounds Manchester inviting me to be involved with their Sofar Sounds Valentine’s Day Special. Having been a fan of Sofar Sounds for a while now, I immediately jumped at the chance to be part of a special evening. For anyone who doesn’t know, Sofar is a global movement bringing together a network of artists, hosts and guests across 300 cities all over the world to create a wonderful night of music. It’s an intimate event held at secret and unique locations, where new upcoming artists perform to an audience of music lovers. They also record a lot of acts on the night for their YouTube channel so I will link their channel below https://www.youtube.com/user/Sofarsounds and if you want to sign up as a guest I have the link to their site here. https://www.sofarsounds.com
The secret location this time was an office space in Manchester called Love Creative (obviously fitting the Valentine’s theme) which was a super cool almost warehouse-like space, that reminded me a lot of the interior in Berlin. A small section of the room was set up for the bands and their instruments. Part of the secrecy of the gigs means that I didn’t know who else would be playing until the night itself, along with the audience who also have no idea who to expect, making the whole event even more exciting! The performers are only able to play an acoustic set, stripping back the songs to get to the raw and basics of the sound.
At 7pm (whilst we were all still scrambling setting up our instruments I might add), an audience of around 80-100 people started to trickle in and began filling up the space by sitting on benches, chairs, cushions, blankets, the floor. Making the audience sit like this is a big aspect of the Sofar rules, because it creates an intimate feel and brings the audience and the artists closer together (quite literally!). Another ‘rule’ is that once the bands begin, the audience are not allowed to talk so that they are respecting the artist and their music and taking the time to listen. Because the audience have to sign up to the event also, it means only people who are genuinely interested in the music will take part.
Sofar makes sure that there are no openers or headliners, but that all acts are equal, and it just so happened that that evening I was first up on the make-shift stage. Each artist plays just 4 songs each, so I decided to play some originals and throw in a cover. After introducing myself by warning the audience that I have a tendency to write only melancholy songs, and somewhat- embarrassingly calling myself ‘Melancholy Meg’ I began with my first track Abigail. And then because it was Valentine’s day I wanted to show my love for Joni Mitchell, so I chose A Case of You, which is arguably my favourite Joni song. I then followed this with two more original tracks Drown and With Time, that along with Abigail, are my favourite originals to play solo. Having the audience listen so carefully and intently to the songs I was playing, and the stories behind them brought back the magic to music. It was so evident to see in the room that these people were genuinely excited by new music and wanted to be a part of it. I felt this the whole time I was playing and it made the night that more special for me.
After I had played and a short interval concluded itself, a band called Cosmo Calling began their set. A 5-piece band of 2 guitars, drums, bass and 2 vocal parts, Cosmo Calling describe themselves as an Alternative Indie-rock band. However, as it was an acoustic show their sound was completely stripped back to acoustic guitars, bass, a cajon and tambourine to replace the drums but keeping the vocals. I immediately fell in love with the vocals that contrasted each other, as there were both female and male vocal parts that when harmonised sounded even more beautiful. The strumming of the acoustic guitars and the light percussion and rhythmic bass meant that the sound was continually uplifting and exciting and I could see that the audience were struggling to refrain from nodding their heads or stamp their feet a little. I certainly was bobbing along, excited by the raw sound they were creating. When I spoke after to the singer, Phoebe, I asked her what their full sound was away from the acoustics, as I was mesmerised by their sound and couldn’t imagine it any other way. She explained to me that they generally played a heavier and ‘rockier’ sound, which I was partially surprised about because the acoustic sound they created was so well perfected as if that was their usual vibe. They included a lot of catchy melodies making the songs even more memorable and to be honest I’d have loved to have heard them play more songs. I can’t wait for them to release their single ‘On The Wire’ on 3rd March.
And last but not least, the final act of the evening was a band called Cassia. After having a little chat with the lads before they went on stage, I was excited and intrigued to hear their sound, having never heard them before either. Cassia are made up only of three members from Macclesfield (just round the corner from me, so even better!) including guitar and vocals, bass and drums and to be quite honest, they don’t need anything else. They define their sound as tropical rock and there’s nothing more accurate than that. Of course they were playing acoustic, so the rock element was excluded, but tropical describes them perfectly. I genuinely felt like I was sat relaxed on holiday by the beach listening to the most fun and laid back sound I’ve heard in a long while. The chords played on the acoustic guitar screamed happiness without ever being cheesy! The drum section included the bongos too enhancing those feel-good vibes! If you ever needed your mood boosting, especially around this time of year I suggest taking a listen to Cassia’s tracks!
I could see the audience were all bobbing along, desperate to have a little boogie, but respectfully continued to listen to the sunshine-sounding music that Cassia graced us with. They reminded me a lot of Vampire Weekend, with the Cuban-style melodies and guitar parts and when I spoke to lead singer, Rob, afterwards he explained he was indeed a fan of them. He said that his favourite thing about writing and playing the songs was that they were so much fun, both for him and the band to play and you could definitely see that resonating with the audience. They finished their set with their newest single Weekender which will also be out on the 3rd March. But if you can’t wait until then, listen to their single 100 Times Over – you’ll be dancing before you know it!
I can’t explain how much fun the whole evening was, both the audience who I had some wonderful little chats with afterwards and meeting Cosmo Calling and Cassia who were all such lovely musicians. If you haven’t already, I urge you to check out Sofar’s videos and even sign up for the events near you – you won’t regret it.