Feb 8, 2023 - Things to Do

Intimate concerts find a home in Cleveland

Two guitarists perform inside a sneaker store in New York City.

Sofar Sounds takes over a boutique in New York City. Photo: Courtesy of Sofar Sounds

Cleveland's concert landscape is entering a new realm, as outside event companies bring an increasing number of small, intimate concerts to town.

Why it matters: In a competitive concert market, these shows give music fans more options and local artists another platform for exposure.

State of play: Sofar Sounds, a U.K.-based music events company that launched in 2009, broke into the Cleveland market four years ago and hosted two dozen concerts in 2022.

How it works: The location of the concerts and the three regional or local artists performing aren't revealed to ticket holders until the day of the show.

  • The concerts can take place anywhere from a motorcycle garage or barbershop to someone's house. Attendance is usually capped at 50 to 75 guests.

Yet, but: Sofar isn't alone. Fever, another national events company, debuted its Candlelight Concerts in Cleveland last year.

What they're saying: Chyna Brackeen, Sofar's director of central North America, tells Axios she's found that many fans desire "more personal" ways to experience music.

  • "If you think about the typical concertgoing experience, you're often way back in the nosebleed seats or in a packed, sweaty club," Brackeen says. "With our events, artists and fans can connect, up close and personal."

Troy's thought bubble: Sofar's latest show, on Feb. 4, took place at Nosotros Rock Climbing Gym in Lakewood with three fairly well-known local artists — Clare Feorene, AJ Smith and Grace Blackford.

  • A special vibe to the room made you feel like you were friends. It brought back the innocence of discovering new music in college.

What's next: Fever is hosting a Valentine's Day-themed event Friday with the Listeso String Quartet playing songs from classic romantic films at Maltz Performing Arts Center. Tickets start at $35.

  • Sofar's next concert is Feb. 23 at a "hidden speakeasy" in Tremont. Tickets are $18.

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