Music business holds gigs in secret locations across Portsmouth

Sofar Sounds session in Hilsea
Sofar Sounds session in Hilsea
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MUSIC lovers in Portsmouth can now attend top-secret gigs in intimate settings, as Sofar Sounds brings its exclusive project to venues in the city. 

Launched in London in 2009, Sofar Sounds puts on gigs in 431 cities, from Boston to Madrid and now Portsmouth.

Jess Turner, 33, a musician from Havant, had been watching Sofar shows for five years until she got the job of Portsmouth curator, helping to organise shows and find acts and locations.

She said: ‘It’s been too good to be true. It’s my ultimate project as I get to meet all these amazing people.’

The gigs are designed to be intimate and the audience members are encouraged to sit on the floor and bring their own drinks. Music is at the heart of the shows and guests are asked not to talk or text during the performances. Locations and line-ups are kept secret until two days before the event.

Sofar chooses three acts per show which either have a major following or are up-and-coming, and past Sofar acts have included Ed Sheeran and Billy Eilish. 

Sofar and Jess have already organised two nights in Portsmouth – one at Casemates in Hilsea, which seated 70 people, and one at the Hunter Gatherer coffee shop on Albert Road, which seated just 25.

Jess said: ‘We choose locations which show the world what we have in Portsmouth. We want to show off our local talent and our local venues, and it’s a great way to promote the brilliant businesses we have here in Portsmouth.’

Most shows are recorded so the artists get a platform online.

The last show featured Portsmouth singer-songwriter Dani Uziel, Italian set MCFdM and Chichester group Fire in the Meadow.

Mattia Caroli, MCFdM frontman, said: ‘It was our first time in Portsmouth and our first Sofar there. Jess was really nice to us, and we felt like she’s doing a very good job! It was a pleasure to share the stage with the other two acts and they were brilliant. We hope to be back next year and to have another session with them.’

More Portsmouth gigs are scheduled for May 26, June 28 and July 26. Tickets cost £15. Jess says Sofar in Portsmouth is just getting started.

‘It’s an amazing way to make new friends, meet new people and maybe even find your new favourite band,’ she said.

Go to sofarsounds.com/portsmouth