Sofar Sounds holds free pop-up gigs from people’s livings rooms (Sofar stands for songs from a room) in over 30 cities across 5 continents. If you’re not familiar with them, I suggest you sign up for their newsletter for notifications about the next show near you. It’s a terrific way to spend an afternoon and discover some amazing bands. Being such a fan of the Sofar ‘movement’ myself, I decided to get involved with the Austin chapter and co-emceed the last event held in late July. Below is a recap of all the bands that played that day.
Newcomers Friendly Savages started the afternoon off on a high note with the buoyant “I Have Your Ghost”, one of many fabulous folk songs off their 2013 debut album O, Joshua!. Once the guys got everyone warmed up they instigated some crowd-participation with “The Escape” singing, “If you know how love’s the noose that you should never loose, then clap your hands / If you know how love’s the lock that undoes all your knots, then clap your hands.” Everyone must’ve known, because everyone clapped their hands.
It’s right around this time that Josh broke some strings on his guitar from “rocking out too hard“, but he persevered through their last song, “Her Locket On A Chain”. Despite the minor setback, they still managed to rock pretty hard. Then again, they just kind of rock in general.
Drew Davis moved to Austin about a year ago, making her performance at Sofar Sounds a perfect introduction to some of the locals. With her bluesy inflections, the singer/songwriter sounds like she comes from a jazz background.
During her set, Davis sang one of the first songs she wrote after moving here, which appears on her 2012 release, Old Old Heart. Titled, “Kings Of Deceit” it’s a wry track about the guys in Austin being just as sleazy and untrustworthy as they are elsewhere (sorry, guys).
Changing tune, Davis sang “No Law“, a moving piece about the last time her heart was broken, but first prefaced, “This song was used in a scene on Snooki & JWOWW. It wasn’t what I had in mind when I wrote the song, but it was a really emotional moment for Snooki, so I’m glad we could relate on that level.” So are we Drew, so are we.
The singer closed her set with “Absence”, a song “about being Facebook de-friended. One of the times.” Something any 21st century kid can relate to.
A self-taught guitar and banjo player, Taylor Baker added a little whimsy with sweet folk songs like “Wonderlust” and “Blue”. Rounding out the sound was her dynamic band featuring Christian Umstattd on the cajon drum and maracas (which he played using his feet), Drew Walker on guitar/trumpet, and Mark Williams on cello.
Halfway through Baker paused, regretting her footwear, “I wore socks, that was a bad choice.” Contemplating going barefoot, she ultimately decided to ‘spare’ fans quipping, “It’s really hot but Austin is worth it“.
Baker admits to being “obsessed” with Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon, and played a standout cover of “I’ll Be True” from his side project The Shouting Matches (thanks for the tip Taylor). While not on her EP Gold Dust, video from the Sofar show is coming soon so you’ll get to hear it – stay tuned!
California Wives played Sofar Sounds ahead of a headlining gig at The Mohawk later that night. This was their first introduction to Sofar and the boys weren’t sure what to expect as they drove in from a gig in Dallas the night before. Once they arrived, they confessed their surprise and excitement to play to the rapt audience.
Though not originally from California, the Chicago-dwellers have a laid back surf-vibe that’s perfect for the beach, accented by lead vocalist Jayson Kramer’s breathy voice. The band played songs off their debut album, Art History including “Purple”, “Los Angeles”, “The Fisher King” and “Marianne”.
It was getting down to the wire and for a moment it seemed like the boys might not make it in time. Thankfully they did and they knocked it out of the park. Hopefully they won’t stay away from Austin for long.