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Sofar Sounds Brings Live Music to Secret Settings Across Austin for Unique Concert Experiences

Unexpected connections await at these intimate shows that hold a sense of magic and discovery

Sofar Sounds Austin
Riders Against the Storm performing at a local Sofar Sounds showcase. (photo by Hannah Varnell)

Have you ever been to a bad gig?

That question is what sparked the idea for revolutionary live music experience Sofar Sounds back in 2009. As it turns out, the majority of responses are a resounding “yes.”

Beginning in the London flat of founder Rafe Offer with eight close friends, he realized that by relinquishing distractions and refocusing on the music, the connection felt between the audience and the performer grew immensely. The shared listening experience held that sense of magic that was getting harder and harder to find at regular live shows.

Concerts take place in unexpected venues all over Austin

Today, Sofar Sounds hosts an array of noteworthy artists at unique locations all over town. Forgoing traditional music venues, the inviting events take place at art galleries, residential rooftops, hip boutiques, historical landmarks and more. But the real catch? The actual site isn’t announced until 36 hours before the show, and you won’t know who’s performing until the moment they step on stage.

Sofar Sounds Austin
Austin’s Vintage Bookstore and Wine Bar served as a recent venue. (photo by Eyal Amsellem)

The air of secrecy is part of what makes a Sofar show something special. It’s not often that we find ourselves seeking out concerts from unknown artists or genres outside of our comfort zones.

“People tend to have preconceived notions about what to expect from different genres, when in reality so many artists draw from varied styles and sources of inspiration,” says Chyna Brackeen, Regional Director of Sofar Sounds. “That’s why we call these shows ‘Discovery Shows’ — the whole point is to help our guests discover music that they never would have experienced without Sofar, in the hopes that they find their next favorite artist.”

Sofar Sounds offers a great opportunity to discover new musicians

Currently present in over 400 cities around the world, the musicians that perform are handpicked and typically feature a mix of both locally grown talent and globally rising names just passing through. As the years have gone on, the list of alumni has grown to include modern-day buzzy acts like Billie Eilish, Hozier, Leon Bridges and Maren Morris. But here, there are no headliners or hordes of fans in tow. It truly is about exploring and connecting with music in an intimate and unforgettable way.

“The beautiful part is that we don’t care if an artist is playing their first live show or their ten thousandth, and we don’t care whether they have an established fan base; it’s all about the impact they’ll make in the room,” Brackeen explains.

Finding its way to Austin in 2012, our music-loving city made a natural fit for the brand’s expansion. The initiative was first launched by independent local curators who wanted to cut through the distraction and competition of normal shows to form a more community-based way to support and discover new artists. Now, Sofar offers multiple performances throughout the week all over town.

Sofar Sounds Austin
Deer Fellow putting on a a live show at Neighborhood Goods on South Congress. (photo by Richie)

If your curiosity is peaked, the first step is to pick a neighborhood near you and snag your ticket. Next, you’ll check your email revealing more info the day before the show. Finally, you’ll arrive for an immersive experience accompanied by fellow music lovers. Each concert showcases three artists from varying backgrounds, and can last from two to three hours long. If an event isn’t BYOB (which they usually are), there are often options onsite to purchase alcohol and food.

Expect intimate, casual settings

It’s also worth noting that the majority of shows are floor seating-only, with guests able to bring more comfortable adjustments from home like pillows or blankets. While this helps add to the flexibility of these unconventional venues, it also puts the artist on the same level as the listeners, creating an even more engaging dynamic for both.

“We’ve also found that floor seating encourages people to get to know their neighbors,” Brackeen continues. “It feels more casual and less stuffy than rows of assigned seats, and people are more willing to share a bottle of wine and some conversation between performances. Of course, we also recognize that not all people are able to (or want to) sit on the floor, and we can accommodate that!”

In the coming year, Sofar Sounds looks forward to adding to its roster of interesting venues and even launching a new type of high-energy show. For more information about what’s next, head to