I Attended a ‘Secret Concert’ in Charlotte. Here’s How It Went.

See intimate concerts in unlikely places.

I had the opportunity last weekend to get into a SoFar Sounds pop-up concert. It was a great night of music, beer and food!

A little backstory first. SoFar Sounds is a unique event where you get a ticket to a concert that:

  1. You don’t know where it is until the day before.
  2. You don’t know who’s performing until you arrive.

You request a ticket on their website, and your name goes into a draw. If you get selected, you can then purchase up to 10 tickets.

Saturday – 36 hours before concert

SoFar Sounds sends an email out to all the lucky participants revealing the time and place of the concert. Each concert is at a different location guaranteed to be a small, intimate space that brings the audience and artists closer together. In my case, the venue was Resident Culture Brewery Co. I was to arrive between 7pm and 7:30 and the show would start shortly after. Also, there would be a food truck and, obviously, beer for purchase.

Sweet!

Sunday – 45 min before concert

I leave my house and head towards Resident Culture. I live about 15 minutes away, so I thought I should get there in plenty of time to check in, get a beer and some food and find a seat.

Sunday – 25 min before concert

I realize a few blocks away from my destination I forgot my wallet.

Sunday – 1 min before concert

Riding that fine line of ‘driving faster to get home’ and ‘slow enough not to be pulled over,’ I manage to just barely get back to the brewery before they close the door.  No time for food. No time for beer. And oh, surprise! Standing room only.

Did I forget to mention that the email states that you bring your own seating, stand or sit on the floor?

Yeah, forgot about that.

I head towards the back as the announcer is thanking everyone for coming. The room is packed. About 150 people have gathered in the barrel room of the brewery. About a third are seated in their folding camp chairs, a third on the floor, and the rest standing in the back.

The announcer introduces the first act.

ACT ONE – Dexter Jordan

Dexter Jordan is a local singer/songwriter from Charlotte. He has a unique style that I can best describe as R&B/Jazz fusion, although that still doesn’t seem to do him justice. He and his band have a smooth sound that gets everyone in the groove. The band performs several songs, mostly originals and an amazing Outkast cover.

Intermission #1

Fifteen minutes give me enough time to run out to the food truck (Casa – Puerto Rican cuisine – fantastic!) and grab a black lager before heading back into the concert area. Not normally a dark beer fan, but this was really good!

As cool as the area is, it’s obvious this is not the intended use of the room. Getting a little warm with 150 people plus lights for the artists.

We’ll make it through.

ACT TWO – Eddie Z and the Vault Dwellers

Mandolin and rock guitar meet funk bass with female Pop vocals. Eddie Z owns and operates The Playroom music facility here in Charlotte. Normally a 7-9 piece band, The Vault Dwellers brought it down to a 5piece jam session. Great original songs and some crowd interaction with a sing-a-long. Their album is dropping soon, but they brought some in for early purchase just for us!

They were gone before I got to the table.

Intermission #2

Time for another beer! Got a nice IPA. Someone from Resident Culture thankfully opens the large door separating the barrel room from the main bar area to let some A/C in until the next performance. We are all grateful.

ACT THREE – Handmade Moments

Anna Moss & Joel Ludford get my attention before they even start performing with a beat boxing and bass thumping sound check. When they start performing, jazz, bluegrass, blues, soul, hip-hop, and rock all come together. It’s just the two of them on stage, trading off vocals, both beat boxing and switching from bass, saxophone, and guitar effortlessly. Creating a sound both intimate and deceptively full. Anna sings with a powerful and sultry voice, then she plays the sax with the same amount of passion.

They end the show with a cover of “What a Wonderful World” that gets a standing ovation.

Despite my initial hiccups getting here, and slightly uncomfortable temperature, tonight’s SoFar Sounds was an amazing experience. The performers were diverse and the music was fantastic. If you want to hear how Charlotte’s local music scene is developing in an up-close and personal way, a SoFar Sounds concert is a perfect way to do it.  They have new concerts on a regular basis, so make sure to check it out.

Just don’t forget your wallet. And a chair.