Acronym of SOngs From A Room, SOFAR was conceived on a night out in London, when three friends agreed to a common idea: to set up a cozy and intimate atmosphere during concerts. Born in March 2009, this simple yet ambitious project spread rapidly throughout the world, and landed in Geneva in 2016. Registrations are done online, the concert venue is revealed the night before, and the line-ups are kept secret until the last minute.
The rules: discretion and cell phones on airplane mode.
This Friday June 30th, I arrive at the venue, invited by Delphine who welcomes me with accolades and introduces her “family” to me, devoted volunteers, and makes me climb up the stairs to sample the pre-show atmosphere. The living room of our host is rearranged in order to allow the audience to sit on the floor. Sofas and chairs are relegated to the walls, where the first arrivals rush to sit. The five letters of SOFAR, delicately placed on the roof of an upright piano, envelop the room with an unusual atmosphere. Behind the small improvised stage, large windows reveal the impressive Batiment des Forces Motrices, and the walls display the line-up: Willy Budz, Stevans, Tallune. My musical appetite awakens, my stomach grumbles.
The first group opens with a spirited 20-minute set. Their sound is a mix of reggae with hints of aggressive hip-hop and soul, carried by the suave voice of the singer who leads the attentive audience on a cruise on the SOFAR sea. The crowd claps loudly and the musicians are delighted to be there. While the stage is rearranged to accommodate the next artists, the audience heads out, smokes or chats about first impressions. Stevans takes over with mocking momentum. The little clown, Yvan, and the lanky Yann entertain the cruise, and to my delight, do a beautiful acoustic performance of some of their famous titles. The magic is there, the feet start to tap, and the hands clap furiously. Then the talented group, Talune, from Paris, plunges the audience into the mystical and magnificent ocean of obsessive folk, without borders, to divinely close this memorable evening.
Photography © Kevin Pittet