Sofar Sounds

On Friday, we headed out into York to a secret gig organised by Sofar Sounds (Sofar standing for ‘Songs From a Room’). Sofar was created in 2010 as a way of bringing original, live music back to the people. They operate in an extremely grassroots way, offering limited free tickets that can be applied for by people interested in attending an event (although donations may be offered). 

By Jane Howkins


The secret location of the event was only announced the day before the gig, and was one of the upstairs studios of Stonebow House. Once in, several armchairs, sofas and cushions were spread around the room for the audience to relax in, and recycling bins set out for empty drinks bottles and cans (Sofar Sounds generally operates on a ‘Bring Your Own Beer’ policy). There was a very relaxed atmosphere, and the artists playing also sat and mingled with the audience. The website details a few rules about attending the gigs which at first may seem quite strict, however once there, there was nothing to worry about and it ended up being an enjoyable, easy-going atmosphere.

First up, was local university student and guitarist Sam Rankin, who played a number of instrumental tunes on his acoustic guitar. Sam claimed that he had created a lot of his music whilst busking on the streets for pocket money. However, he seemed a great deal more talented than the average busker. His music featured lots of finger picking, harmonics and some elements of classical guitar-work, and the experimental ways in which he used his guitar (for example, as a percussion instrument) were astounding.

Next up were Bull, another local act performing their own brand of Britpop, which sounded almost like a mixture of Oasis and Weezer. Their music had plenty of melodic hooks, as well as a rough edge to it that made them instantly more memorable than the many other bands still operating within the genre. The banter they had with the crowd (as well as vocalist and guitarist Tom Beer managing to break two guitar strings) also provided the audience with many laughs.

Lastly, it was time for Hello Operator to take to the small stage and play. Also a local band, they have recently been signed to Song/ATV, so be prepared to see them on a bigger stage in the future. They started off with frontman Max Dalton playing by himself, before the rest of the band joined him. Their songs were truly great, with subtle chord changes and song writing mixed with a powerful stage presence, leaving the audience mesmerised by what they were hearing. Definitely ones to watch!


If the opportunity ever arises to go to a Sofar Sounds event in the future, then we highly recommend it!


Sam Rankin, Bull and Hello Operator played at the Stonebow House on Friday 27 November 2015