2/3/16 – Zumix

Bars. Theaters. Basements. Lawns. Clubs.

There are a lot of venues in which you can enjoy live music, but none have the same mission as ZUMIX, the latest location for Sofar Sounds’ intimate musical gathering.

Leaving their shoes at the door, Sofar listeners gathered in a converted firehouse in East Boston, which now serves as the new home of ZUMIX, a non-profit organization dedicated to “building the community through music and the arts.” It began in 1991 in response to the worst year of violence in Boston’s history, and 25 years later, it’s still changing lives.

Ramsel Gonzalez, one of the organization’s many graduates, gave opening remarks at the show, noting how ZUMIX provided a haven for him as a teen, and how it reaches the lives of more than 10,000 people in the Boston community through workshops, music & tech programs, community events, concerts, and its radio station 94.9 LPFM (launching this June).

The evening’s opening performance was a current ZUMIX student, a young rapper by the name of Nikochet. Despite his youth, his playful stage banter and charisma was that of a performer many years older. He charmed the crowd with a mix of witty one liners (“I wrote a poem called I can’t find the words. It goes like this. ”), thoughtful raps and fun, free-wheeling songs. A self-proclaimed “class-clown-DJ,” Shea spat out a variety of topics, even rapping a rapid-paced ditty about negative people themed around pest-control spray. His lyrics were often personal, drawing from his internal struggle: “I used to wonder if I had the courage to live how I dream and then I stopped wondering and started doing.”

Shortly after, the female duo Gracie & Rachel took the stage with a mesmerizing piano/violin duet, but kept the banter light, providing a pleasant, light-hearted contrast to their intense melodies. “This is the safest venue we’ve ever played in,” Gracie remarked, gesturing to the firehouse around them. “Good to know if we burn the house down we’re covered.”

In their successive songs, the duo spooled out intricate ribbons of violin and piano that wove around poignant vocals and piercing lyrics. “Welcome to a world where dreams only live in your sleep.” A crescendo of chords whipped around the room as Gracie’s voice rose fluidly above it. Dramatically, urgently, passionately it danced, until it was over. The fervor whooshed out of the room as if someone had let a cold breeze in the door.

Former folk band Covey, now reborn as an indie-rock trio, coaxed out a California beach-rock that sauntered around the room and echoed with swagger. Unlike Gracie & Rachel, they were without shoes. “I like your socks!” someone shouted out. Their bassist wiggled his colorful mismatching socks.

The lack of footwear gave a whimsical twist to their otherwise earnest set as the frontmen waltzed around the stage to their echoey indie rock. They played their favorite song, “Special K,” to close out the night and the last chords dissolved into enthusiastic applause.

Strangers mingled after the show, meeting fellow listeners and musicians alike as they reveled in the intimacy that Sofar Sounds provides. Although the mystery and suspense were over, the discovery of fresh local talent and ZUMIX’s community brightened the drizzly Monday evening.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.