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.
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The U.S. Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade, the landmark ruling that guaranteed a constitutional right to an abortion, Friday morning. Moments later, Austin City Council set a special meeting for next month to pass a resolution aimed at decriminalizing abortion.
The GRACE Act, which stands for guarding the right to abortion care for everyone, is a twofold plan submitted by council member Jose “Chito” Vela. It recommends that city funds shouldn’t be used to surveil, catalog, report or investigate abortions. It also recommends that police make investigating abortion their lowest priority.
Council Member Vanessa Fuentes, who co-sponsored the resolution along with council members Paige Ellis, Kathie Tovo and Mayor Steve Adler, said the importance of the GRACE Act cannot be overstated.
“By introducing this resolution during a special session, City Council is doubling down on fighting back for reproductive health,” Fuentes said. “Items like the GRACE Act will promote essential healthcare while enabling individuals to exercise their bodily freedom.”
The act takes an approach similar to when former council member Greg Casar moved to decriminalize the possession of small amounts of marijuana. Ultimately, state law doesn't allow city officials to order police chiefs to adopt specific enforcement policies so the resolution would be a request to Police Chief Joe Chacon. In May, Politico reported that Vela is having "ongoing conversations" with Chacon about the proposal.
Austonia contacted Attorney General Ken Paxton for comment on the GRACE Act but did not hear back by time of publication. On Friday, Paxton celebrated the overturning of Roe and announced an annual office holiday on June 24 in recognition of the high court's decision.
In a press release, Vela said the Texas state government has a history of overturning municipal protections of human rights. Thirty days after the Supreme Court’s ruling, Texas will ban all abortions, with exceptions only to save the life of a pregnant patient or prevent “substantial impairment of major bodily function.”
Still, Vela expressed hope for the GRACE Act’s longevity. Council’s special meeting on it is set for the week of July 18.
“We know this resolution is legally sound, and Austin is not alone in this fight,” Vela said. “We are working with several other cities who are equally horrified by the prospect of an abortion ban and want to do everything they can to protect their residents.”
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Despite a 2-0 deficit, there was a pot of gold for Austin FC after all as it celebrated its annual Pride Night with rainbows and a 2-2 comeback draw to FC Dallas Saturday night.
After three FC Dallas losses last season, the Dallas derby draw marks the first time Austin FC has tied against its Copa Texas rival. Austin continues to edge over FC Dallas as it sits at 3rd in the MLS West.
Here are the biggest takeaways from the match:
A somber start
Decked out in colorful hues for LBGTQ+ Pride, Verde fans started the match on a somber note as they held up banners to take a stand against gun violence before the match.
As the national anthem began, fans held up banners with the names of each child that was killed in the Uvalde school shooting and a plea to "end gun violence."
The supporters' section was also dotted with Pride flags and a "Bans off Our Bodies" banner in protest of the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v. Wade.
FC Dallas earns a 2-0 lead
That sober tone continued onto the pitch. With midfielder Daniel Pereira's absence due to a red card, the Verde and Black lost two goals to FC Dallas by the 70th minute of play.
FC Dallas played it sneaky for the first half of the match, giving Austin FC plenty of room to hold possession as it waited to strike on a Verde error. That mentality proved dangerous for Austin as Dallas' Paul Arriola took advantage of Brad Stuver's deflection to score the first goal of the night in the 57th minute of play.
Dallas struck once more as Brandon Servant pushed past the Verde line to score the second goal of the match.
Austin FC strikes back
But energy quickly returned to Austin's favor thanks to Designated Player Sebastian Driussi, who scooted past several FC Dallas defenders alongside Moussa Djitte to snag an unlikely first goal for Austin.
A full Verde comeback
Austin's subs proved deadly as momentum returned to the home team toward the end of the match. A well-placed cross from Nick Lima—and a diving header from a fresh-legged Danny Hoesen—helped the team secure the draw with a second Verde goal in the 84th minute of play.
Hoesen, who was Austin's first starting striker last season, has now scored two goals with the team after a yearlong injury stuck him on the bench.
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