Sofar Sounds Boston: January 2014
Audience Interaction8.8
Visuals8.4
Energy7.5
Sound7.9
8.2Overall Score

Sofar Sounds is such a brilliant idea, that I am always thankful that it is executed as perfectly as it is. With so many moving parts, and last minute arrangements, it would seem easy for a Sofar show to be a train wreck. But this last show, my third Sofar event, went off without a hitch, and with an energy that a normal concert would be lucky to match.

Held in the lobby of a Fort Point office building, the show didn’t instantly have the charm of a cozy living room. But a stage and lighting setup by The Murdock Manor, created an muted ambience that guided focus towards the band, and the atmosphere surrounding them. The lineup, composed of three of Boston’s finest local talents, was diverse, lively, and a great summary of the sounds coming from our great city.

First up were The Ballroom Thieves, a trio that is quickly becoming one of Boston’s premier local groups. Armed with a folk meets hard rock sound, they were an instant crowd pleaser, winning over the few people who weren’t already fans. They charmed the crowd of young, eager fans with silly, terse introductions like “This song is about siblings that are male” for “Brothers” and “This song is about the people who shoot arrows” for “Arrows.” Each song of theirs began with a sound like The Lumineers, but grew and grew until it was a pounding sing-along that can’t be ignored.

Next, Grey Season proved that looks can be deceiving. While the group may look young and unpolished, with slightly awkward clothes and and a definite college-band vibe, any doubts instantly vanished when they started playing. Having recently recorded an album in Levon Helm’s barn studio, they brought a loud but tender version of Americana to our ears. Flawless harmonies and raucous jamming made it clear why Levon had seen something promising in them. They were on fire!

Unfortunately, no show can be perfect, and this show ended on its lowest note. Moe Pope & Rain, winner of Hip-Hop Artist of the Year at the BMA’s, took the energy down a few notches too far with his chill-out rhymes. While the beats were well-crafted and mellow, the lyrics took a depressing turn, clearly bumming out many in the audience. The fact that this guy is one of the “best” rappers in town only emphasizes the need for growth and support in the local rap scene. Sure, he wasn’t terrible, but he would’ve made much more sense as an opener considering his performance was the most mellow of the three.

Regardless of the slightly off-putting ending, Sofar has shown us once again that it is in town to stay. It has seen a great amount of support from locals and is flourishing in a city with plenty of local talent to go around. If you haven’t been to a Sofar show, I urge you to check it out, and see what you’ve been missing!

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