Sofar Sounds OKC Showcases Local Talent in Small Concerts - 405 Magazine

Sofar Sounds OKC Showcases Local Talent in Small Concerts

With intimate settings and a spare acoustic approach, the OKC chapter of Sofar Sounds aims to focus on the music.

A small audience gathers around a band in a dimly lit coffee shop during a Sofar Sounds show in Oklahoma City.

Photo from Allie Shinn/Sofar Sounds.

With intimate settings and a spare acoustic approach, the OKC chapter of Sofar Sounds aims to focus on the music.

For local musician Tim Miller, it’s the smaller crowds that are scarier.

“It’s almost like you’d rather play in front of a thousand people you don’t know compared to (being) in a small room with 20 people that you do know,” he said. “Basically, all of their attention is on you.”

But the higher level of audience investment from Sofar Sounds’s small shows also created a rewarding intimate performance unlike other concerts Miller and his band, Chelsea Days, have played.

Sofar Sounds, an international music events company, organizes hundreds of these up-close-and-personal shows meant to place the focus on music. Each concert presents three 20-to-25-minute acts in a stripped-down musical style. The company operates in 400-plus cities around the world, including Oklahoma City, but realizing its ethos requires local connections.

That’s why most of OKC’s chapter is managed by singer-songwriter Alyssa Danley, who started the role in January 2022 and performed at two Sofar shows. “I wear many hats,” she said. “I represent Sofar Sounds in the community by booking all of our concerts here, cultivating those relationships with these local businesses, venues, artists.”

Instead of traditional venues like the Tower Theatre, Danley scouts smaller business spots for potential concerts, such as Commonplace Books, 405 Yoga or Elemental Coffee. “We prioritize places that are a bit more unconventional for going to a concert,” she said. The location of a show is only announced 36 hours in advance, and the lineup isn’t announced at all. The performers of every show are kept a secret until each act performs.

“That has caused some skepticism among guests,” Danley said. It’s meant to introduce new artists to concertgoers who might not have heard of them otherwise. Danley prioritizes booking artists of different genres for every lineup and promoting their upcoming concerts and releases.

Miller said that concertgoers that discovered Chelsea Days through one of their two Sofar shows still engage with them on social media. “We met a lot of people at those events who were really cool.”

Aside from growing their fanbase, Miller found that the spare acoustic setting that many Sofar shows encourage forced the band to reimagine their sound. Much of Chelsea Days’ songs unfurl in a psychedelic haze of fuzz, reverb and delays. But instead of their full band setup for their Sofar shows, the band opted for a more minimal sound that focused on their songwriting.

“We don’t get the chance to do that very often, so it’s cool to think of our music in a different light,” Miller said.

Danley said most shows draw about 40 people, with the biggest crowd being 90. Last year, Sofar Sounds OKC had seven sold-out shows in a row. Tickets are typically $18, and of the ticket sales, 70% is paid to the artists.

“It’s a win-win because we’re supporting the local community and supporting these local businesses, too, and giving them a voice as well,” she said.

Sofar Sounds OKC’s next show is Jan. 30 at 7:30 p.m. in Automobile Alley.