Live music is one of life’s greatest pleasures — and Denver has no shortage of it. Whether at intimate venues like the Larimer Lounge and the Hi-Dive or larger spaces like The Pepsi Center or Red Rocks, there is a certain magic that engulfs live shows of all types. But what if there was an alternative to the traditional concert experience? While listening to a band in a rowdy venue can be exhilarating — being shoved by inebriated patrons and repeatedly craning your neck to see over the tall person in front of you can get very old, very fast. Lucky for us, Sofar Sounds is revolutionizing that experience. 

“Sofar Sounds reimagines the live event experience through curated secret performances in more than 400 cities around the world,” explains Brandy Sachen, the Director of Sofar Sounds’ Denver chapter. Sachen sat down with 303 Magazine to explain how she got involved with Sofar Sounds, the future of the company and what makes a Sofar event so damn magical.

Our Violet Room performing in a house near City Park. Photo by Gary Sheer.

At its core, Sofar Sounds creates intimate listening parties. Depending on the venue — ranging from office spaces to residential backyards and living rooms — 50 to 150 tickets are sold. To gain access to these exclusive performances, guests sign up for an event and are entered into a lottery. If selected, they have the option to buy tickets to the event for $15. Guests do not know the location of the performance until the day before the event— and they do not know the artists who are playing until they show up. This combination of secrecy and exclusivity fosters a respectful environment for the artists to engage with the audience. 

Unlike many other live music experiences, guests refrain from cell phone use and talking during sets. Performances typically last for a couple of hours — three artists play for about 20 to 25 minutes with short intermissions in between. During these intermissions, hosts will lead ice breakers and other activities to encourage audience members to meet their neighbors. All of these factors coalesce to create an experience that is unlike any other live music event in Denver. 

Brandy Sachen. Photo by Nikki A. Rae.

The unique environments that Sofar creates are initially what caught Sachen’s eye. Sachen attended her first Sofar event shortly after she moved to Denver from Kansas City in 2013. The experience was “mind-blowing” and Sachen knew she had to get involved.  After working in the education industry with individuals on the autism spectrum for more than a decade, Sachen made the switch to working full-time for Sofar just last summer.

“I made a huge career change just based off of passion and dedication. I met such influential people in Denver and worldwide that were all part of a community. [It’s] just really been so beneficial.” – Brandy Sachen

Neyla Pekarek formerly of The Lumineers at Mile High Station. Photo by Nikki A. Rae.

In 10 short years, something that began as a hobby in London has grown to host more than 15,000 shows worldwide. In Denver, Sofar hosts roughly 18 shows per month. From hip-hop to folk to alternative rock, nearly any type of musical style can be made to work in these intimate spaces. “It’s just all about tweaking those sets for a different environment,” explains Sachen. Local bands like The Hollow, The Velveteers, CRL CRRLL, Neyla Pekarek, Wayne Watts, and Heavy Diamond Ring are just a few of Sachen’s favorites that have performed with Sofar, “but the list is endless,” she says.

Jonah Wisneski of performs at the Wayfinder Co-Op. Photo by Nikki A. Rae.

So what’s next for Sofar Sounds? Chances are, you’ll be seeing a lot more of these events around town in the near future. To preserve intimacy, audience size will remain the same — they’ll just be adding more shows to the calendar. “[We’ll be] continuing to provide more opportunities for artists to perform and to provide more opportunities across the world for guests who attend these types of shows, which is very exciting,” says Sachen.

Sofar events are described as “more [of] a supplement” to the traditional venue experience, rather than a replacement. So next time you’re craving some live music in a more personal and intimate setting, try checking out a Sofar performance — you won’t be disappointed. 

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