A crowd of musicians and adventure-seekers found themselves in the courtyard of Pittsburgh’s infamous mattress factory for another mystery-show hosted by Sofar Sounds, this time celebrating their one-year anniversary hosting shows in Pittsburgh.
Sofar Sounds is an organization touting the responsibility of hosting secret shows in a different location in the city every month. Short for “Songs from a room,” the idea began in London six years ago. It’s simply, really: Ordinary people offer up their spaces to Sofar’s community organizers in a particular city, who then book local and touring bands. Tah-dah: intimate, interesting, and sometimes a little rough around the edges performances. The audience is raked in through Sofar’s mailing list. Attendees must RSVP twice: once at the beginning of the month when the date is revealed, and then one more time a week(ish) before the show when the location and time is revealed. The music is a mystery until arrival.
This month’s show featured a line-up of Pittsburgh veterans. Singer-songwriter Paul Luc opened with four intimate tunes, filling the orb-lit room with goosebumps. Meeting of Important People, a three-piece indie-pop group who played mostly new tunes for the receptive crowd, followed Luc. Singer Josh Verbanet would occasionally throw in a small “woop!” between choruses and verses, which reverberated behind him and seemed to please the audience who were mostly sitting cross-legged on the floor.
The trio was a nice lead-up to headliners Nevada Color, who have become the younger crowd's pop sensation in Pittsburgh’s indie music scene, a well-deserved honor for the quintet of twenty-somethings. It was their 1-year anniversary of their first Sofar show, played in an apartment. Though somewhat satisfactory to have a group repeated in celebration of the one year, the show could have been more surprising and diverse if a new, unexpected act was highlighted.
Nevada Color performed an expectedly tight set, with singer Quinn Wirth working and crooning the crowd. At one point their mics were only playing through the monitors, but Wirth belted out the song an octave higher, backed up by applause and some singing from the crowd.
The night was charming and warm, a testament to hard work from the Pittsburgh Sofar team, who now must grow into their second year of promotion and curation. Gabe Wolford, Sofar’s community organizer, says that they are always looking for new acts. And don’t be intimidated if you’re not an indie-rocker: They’re trying to expand the range of artists that they promote. “We like to keep it fresh,” Wolford emphasized when asked about whether Sofar would be interested in highlighting hip-hop, R&B, or Jazz artists. Get in touch, and get involved. We’re ready for another year.