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Intimate secret shows might just be the most 'Austin' way to see live music in town

R&B pop artist Mélat was first onstage at Aviator Nation. (Laura Figi/Austonia)

When you sign up for one of Sofar Studios’ secret shows, there’s a surprise around every corner from buying the ticket to walking out of the venue.

A musical community putting on intimate live concerts in 325 cities and counting across the world, Sofar Studios puts on shows with unannounced artists with the goal of connecting locals to up-and-coming musicians.

Austonia attended a Sofar show that was in partnership with Bumble at Aviator Nation, 1325 S. Congress Ave., featuring performances from Mélat, Tony22 and Clarence James on April 14.

How a Sofar Sounds show works

Ticketholders are told only the general area of where the show will take place when they purchase their slot before being told the venue 36 hours before the show begins. Each of the three local artists, unknown by the audience until they take the stage, is given a 30-minute set to perform at a unique venue in front of anywhere from a cozy 50-200 guests.

Regional artist booking manager Esther Calloway, a Texan who books for Austin, Dallas, Houston and Colorado, said about half of the musicians do repeat shows. Calloway said she books artists based on their musicality and how Sofar can help them at any point in their career.

“It's really important that we help cultivate careers—we have different opportunities for them to elevate within the Sofar platform,” Calloway said. “We have been able to really connect with artists that we really love, that we are seeing in a local market that's evolving and growing.”

Depending on the venue you end up in, you may sit on picnic blankets or stand up and dance, bring your own booze or snacks, or end up with some free merch at the end of it all.

As for the artists...

Her name is pronounced May-lah-t. (Laura Figi/Austonia)

Tony22's ukulele gives him a gentle, unconventional sound. (Laura Figi/Austonia)

Clarence James' vocals are like a dream. (Laura Figi/Austonia)

  • Dreamy R&B pop singer Mélat’s music is all about her strong yet angelic vocals, which she demonstrated by opening with a cover of “Killing Me Softly With His Song,” by the Fugees and Lauryn Hill. Our favorite original songs were “The Lesson” and “The Now.”
  • Next on stage was Tony22, an electric ukulele strummer whose newest album “222,” follows relatable tales of love, life and mental health. The track “Here and Now” stuck out most to us.
  • The final act of the night, Clarence James made the most memorable entrance when his bassist arrived late during the first song and jumped on stage to join. James’ impressive vocal range in “I’m Melting,” and effortless skills on the guitar in “I Think It Might Be Hell” made us fans.

Each show is a new configuration of artists. In addition to the three above artists, locals like Mama Duke, Sheridan Reed and Nick Swift are common on the lineup. Read more info about the shows here.


Tito's releases (not so?) ugly sweater line for the holidays, profits to charity

Tito's Handmade Vodka

Show your love for Tito's and for the community this year with a wide selection of not that ugly, uglyish, ugly, uglier, and ugliest holiday sweaters.

There's lots choose from, and plenty of accessories like scarves and socks, plus gear for your dog, too.

All of the items can be purchased online or at the Love, Tito’s Retail Store in Austin, TX. 100% of all net proceeds from online or in-store purchases go to one of the nonprofits we’ve teamed up with.

Click here to see the entire collection in the Tito's store.

Mac and Cheese Fest and Free Art Exhibit
Waterloo Greenway, Good Vibrations Installation

🗓 All weekend

🎨 Creek Show Art Exhibit

Check out this highly anticipated art exhibition with illuminated art along Waller Creek. Tickets are free and the event includes food vendors, dazzling lights, live music, and hands-on activities

All weekend 6 p.m - 10 p.m | 📍Waterloo Park

✨ Mozart's Light Show

This iconic holiday tradition lights up for the first time this holiday season starting this weekend! Reserve your spot for an enchanting light and sound performance, delicious hot cocoa, sweet treats, and some overall fun with your friends or family. The show runs till January 6th.

6 p.m and 9 p.m | 📍Mozart's Coffee Roasters - 3825 Lake Austin Blvd, Austin, TX 78703

🗓 Saturday

🥊 Kickboxing in the Park

This fitness event is free and open to the public. Get your morning started right with a "Fitness in the park" class for kickboxing! The class will be led by certified instructors and is a great way to get a cardio workout in while also honing your self-defense skills.

10 a.m - 11 a.m | 📍 Metz Park

🛍 The Front Market

Support local LBGTQ+ and female artists at this outdoor market with over 150 vendors. Get your holiday shopping out of the way at this event, with vendors for food trucks, handmade goods, raffles, hands on workshops and activities, and more.

11 a.m - 5 p.m | 📍Ani's Day and Night - 7107 E Riverside Drive, Austin, TX 78741

🗓 Sunday

🧀 Mac and Cheese Fest

Did someone say cheese?! If you're like me and always willing to get your hands on a bowl of mac and cheese, then this event is for you. Check out the Mac and Cheese festival happening this weekend to decide which vendor has. the best mac and cheese for yourself, and enjoy the bar with creative cocktails while you're at it. Tickets start at $45.

11 a.m - 3 p.m | 📍Lantana Place - 7415 Southwest Parkway