Gig Buddies Blog

All about Sofar Sounds Brighton

What’s the main idea behind Sofar Sounds?

Sofar Sounds was a concept that came out of the frustrations the founders were having with typical gigs. Not feeling able to fully immerse themselves in music due to the noise and distractions like people ordering at the bar, having conversations, filming on their phones and others not even there for the music seemingly.

Sofar Sounds was their attempt at a ‘better way’ to enjoy music, it started in a flat in London in 2009 and it’s now running in 400+ towns and cities worldwide.

Why is this different?

The audience don’t know who they are going to see in advance, or where the gig will be held until the day before, so it’s an exciting journey of discovery. Often audiences will be sat on the floors of spaces, offering a different perspective on the performance, that also helps to create the atmosphere needed for our number one rule, respecting the artists and staying quiet and off phones throughout performances.

We try and create something unique each time, oh and we pay our acts a set amount every single time or they can ask for a live video for youtube. I don’t think that happens with all musical events.

What kind of people come to the events?

Our audiences are a community of people that really care about music or are open minded and want to discover something different. Some we recognise as regulars and others are coming for the first time.

Sofar attracts all ages, anyone and everyone is welcome, inclusion is key, and we also try and make sure spaces are wheelchair accessible though Brighton homes don’t always make that possible. Our event blurb will highlight this.

At a show, the time between acts is just as important in my eyes, a room full of like minded people chatting and making new connections. There are even stories from the Sofar world that people have met at a Sofar gig and later got married. I’d love it if that happened in Brighton, I’d want an invite. 😉

What kind of acts to you have on?

We are so lucky in Brighton to have a wealth of high level musicians on our doorstep, PHILDEL and Noble Jacks come to mind from recent events, but we also get national and international touring acts apply to play. One of my favourites from last year is still Young Mister from North Carolina.

Any genre is welcome, though Sofar shows are typically stripped back or at least played with a more intimate atmosphere in mind, after all no one will be speaking so there wont be that noise to rise above.

It’s so eclectic at our shows, once we had a digeridoo and hang player, followed by a bluesey slide guitarist followed by a signed electronica act. You wouldn’t see it that randomness anywhere else!

There is a strict high standard to our shows which the Brighton volunteers all help to decide so even though you don’t know what you’re going to see, you can trust it will be excellent or interesting. Check out some videos at for a taste

What venues do you hold the gigs in?

Ha, to be honest, wherever will have us.. We rely on central Brighton cafes, shops, offices and people’s living rooms a lot. Recently we have done some larger events in churches and arts spaces around Brighton like One Church and Fabrica. Typically capacity is 30 – 50 people so it’s nice and intimate and you could be seeing a standout musician performing metres away in a quiet room.

When else do you get that opportunity?

What’s the weirdest/most memorable place you’ve run a gig?

Possibly Holler Brewery could be seen as weird as people were literally sat next to the brewing tanks watching an amazing harp player called Ellie Ford. Most memorable is still the Theatre Royal. The audience were sat on the stage and looking up at the auditorium with the acts facing them from the front of the stage. It made for some incredible photos and I hear one girl even cried it was so beautiful.

Special memorable moments, that’s what we’re all about.

How much does it cost and how do people get tickets?

Tickets are £10 each and allocated at random through our website.

Find a gig date you can make, sign up and then keep those fingers crossed you get an email invite to buy your ticket. You have the option to buy one for a buddy each time as well so you don’t have to go alone. Once you’re signed up you can apply to Sofar shows worldwide so your next one could be in Birmingham or Bangkok.

What’s your next plans?

After just over a year running the city I have to give tribute to the amazing team of volunteers around me right now. I would have worn out ages ago without their input and support. With that foundation, our plans now are to expand the team a bit more. We went from 1 show a month to 2 in March and we want to be running 3 a month by Autumn 2019. This will allow us to have loads more acts come through Brighton and many more people the chance to come to shows and experience this unique musical experience.

David Elphick

City-lead, Sofar Sounds, Brighton

Watch some recent Sofar Sounds sessions