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Gapers Block published from April 22, 2003 to Jan. 1, 2016. The site will remain up in archive form. Please visit Third Coast Review, a new site by several GB alumni.
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Review Tue Aug 25 2015

Love and Music Brought People Together at Sofar Sounds

sofarsounds.jpgThis past weekend I had the pleasure of attending one of Sofar Sounds' secret house shows. It was truly a unique experience, one that brought a genuine sense of community to the show. The group prides itself on creating this experience for the mutual benefit of the artist and audiences, placing the music on a pedestal it deserves. Upon walking up the venue, a beautiful apartment in Chicago, I had no idea of who was playing, whose home it was, or how anything would be set up. It was exhilarating and as I would quickly found out, incredibly fulfilling. Guests were greeted by Sofar Sounds volunteers, who handed a small sheet of paper detailing the evening's artists: The Kickback, Daniela Sloan, and Charlie Curtis-Beard.

Walking up the stairs to the third floor and entering the private home felt slightly surreal. Coolers full of free drinks from Miller High Life were peppered throughout the home, welcoming anyone to grab a drink an sit out on the rooftop patio, maybe even mingle with the musicians as they waited for start time. One of the owners of the apartment, Sara, stood in the kitchen prepping food and offering wine and drinks to the guests. She introduced herself to everyone, making us feel more at home than I thought possible. The secret house party vibe was completely absent, it felt more like a gathering of old friends meeting up again. The sets were each introduced with that same sense of equality, with the Sofar Sounds volunteers emphasizing that there are no openers or closers. This is simply a group of musicians sharing their music with the audience, leaving every ounce of ego and pretension at the door. Scratch that, they left it far and away from the secret show and brought personal ad welcoming aura in its place.

kickback.jpgThe Kickback started the late afternoon off, stripping back their sound to Billy Yost, Jonny Ifergan, and a tiny amp between them. They set the tone of self-deprecating humor early, jokingly lamenting that their songs are often too personal to connect with listeners. The Kickback jumped from songs about taking three baths a day to joyful sounds dancing around lyrics of parents divorcing. "Cut Your Hair", a song that acts as a conversation over undesirable haircuts and possible rhinoplasty had the crowd completely in line with Yost and Ifergan. It wasn't hard considering how approachable they were. The cohesion was at its peak when they incorporated the crowd into the songs. They had the audience oooing through the chorus of one song and a select few quietly sang along to the Wreckless Eric cover "Whole Wide World". At one point Yost even asked for someone to be in charge of handing over his phone at the precise moment of the bridge in order to implement more sounds into the song. The moment went off with out a hitch, ensuring the great finale for the set.

daniela sloan.jpgAfter a short break meant for mingling and general appreciation of the evening, Daniela Sloan emerged from the audience with Scott Bennett on an upright bass. Together they added a hell of a lot of soul to the evening as Sloan's voice dazzled in the setting sun. "Baby Steps" was a perfect intro to her voice. She had a way of just breathing an inimitable sound to every song she performed. Even her use Nina Simone's "I'm Feeling Good" didn't fall to the usual trappings one expects, instead Sloan implements it into "Making Your Way" and makes it her very own. She burst with so much energy in her voice, letting every drop of emotion hit the crowd. After one particularly impassioned song, Sloan let the audience in on her candor: "That song is the equivalent of standing in front of you butt ass naked." It was incredibly apparent as she surged forward, ending her set with a "Truly Happy" song.

curtisbeard.jpgCharlie Curtis-Beard, along with Grace Kinter and Jackson Shepard, finished off the night with one of the most inventive and warm hip hop sets. Curtis-Beard's immediately sets himself a way from traditional perceptions of rap as he explains to the crowd that he is trying to bring a more loving and accepting view. He shuns the big butt rap video antics and trades them in for incredibly relatable verses that really connected with the audience. "Sunday Cartoons" has Curtis-Beard beckoning to an age before adulthood and wanting it back as Kinter's vocals soared and Shepard's guitar moved the song along. The three artists worked incredibly well together, shining particularly bright on the cover of Chance the Rapper's "Sunday Candy". The highlight of his set came in the form of "Moonwalk Legion", which started off as spoken word that slowly evolved into Curtis-Beard's swift conversational flow before ending with Shepard's delicate voice serenading the crowd to an ethereal end. The trio was prompted for a final song, which the happily obliged with another Chance cover "Paradise".

Early in Charlie Curtis-Beard's set, he quickly summed up the evening. "Two things bring people together: Love and music." That sentence may seem like a clearly obvious declaration, but it's something that so many other shows forget. Concerts, performances, whatever you want to call them should bring people together like this show did. Luckily Sofar Sounds is committed to this kind show. I don't know how I recommend attending one of thes show enough. I highly suggest you keep a look out on their website for the next show, I guarantee it will be worthwhile.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »


  Chicago Music Media

Alarm Magazine
Big Rock Candy Mountain
Boxx Magazine
Brooklyn Vegan Chicago
Can You See The Sunset From The Southside
Chicago Reader Music
Chicagoist Arts & Events
Chicago Music Guide
Chicago Singles Club
Country Music Chicago
Cream Team
Dark Jive
The Deli Chicago
Jim DeRogatis
Fake Shore Drive
Gowhere Hip Hop
The Hood Internet
Jaded in Chicago
Largehearted Boy
Little White Earbuds
Live Fix Blog
Live Music Blog
Loud Loop Press
Oh My Rockness
Pop 'stache
Pop Matters
Resident Advisor
Sound Opinions
Sun-Times Music Blog
Theft Liable to Prosecution
Tribune Music
UR Chicago
Victim Of Time
WFMU's Beware of the Blog
Windy City Rock


Abbey Pub
Andy's Jazz Club
Aragon Ballroom
Auditorium Theatre
Beat Kitchen
Bottom Lounge
Buddy Guy's Legends
The Burlington
California Clipper
Concord Music Hall
Congress Theater
Cubby Bear
Double Door
Elbo Room
Empty Bottle
Green Mill
The Hideout
Honky Tonk BBQ
House of Blues
Kingston Mines
Lincoln Hall
Logan Square Auditorium
Mayne Stage
The Mutiny
Old Town School of Folk Music
Park West
The Promontory
Red Line Tap
Reggie's Rock Club & Music Joint
The Riviera
Thalia Hall
The Shrine
Symphony Center
Tonic Room
Uncommon Ground
The Vic
The Whistler

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  & Shops:

Alligator Records
Beverly Records
Bloodshot Records
Dave's Records
Delmark Records
Drag City
Dusty Groove
Flameshovel Records
Groove Distribution
He Who Corrupts
Jam Productions
Jazz Record Mart
Kranky Records
Laurie's Planet of Sound
Minty Fresh
Numero Group
mP Shows
Permanent Records
Reckless Records
Smog Veil Records
Southport & Northport Records
Thick Records
Thrill Jockey Records Touch & Go/Quarterstick Records
Victory Records

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