Photograph by Qwynci Bowman

Secret concerts feature local Portland artists

The Hallowed Halls recording studio is nestled in a quaint neighborhood in SE Portland. This is where I found myself attending a SoFar Sounds concert series where up until 25 hours beforehand, the location of the concert was a complete mystery. That is what makes the SoFar Sounds experience so special.

Before buying a ticket, attendees are able to choose the general neighborhood of the venue. The exact location remains a secret until the day before the concert. The artists also remain unknown to the audience until they take the stage. Each concert features musical acts that perform after each intermission.

The only guarantee in attending a SoFar Sounds event is that the audience experience will be an intimate one. According to their website, sofarsounds.com, the goal of these events is to “(Reimagine) the live event experience through curated, intimate performances.” SoFar Sounds prides itself on creating a small, immersive experience that gives the audience a deeper connection to the performers without the frantic bustling that accompanies most larger concerts.

Upon entering the Hallowed Halls venue, it was hard to miss the multitude of colorfully printed rugs on the main stage’s ground floor. On each rug, groups of people sat down socializing and drinking as they waited for the performances to begin.

One act that completely captivated the audience that evening was Rain Pollock who goes by the stage name “Rainezra.” The musician, who calls both Modesto and Santa Cruz, Calif. her home, is relatively new to the SoFar Sounds scene. The first shows she performed were towards the end of 2021.

“I mastered the skill of being able to choose songs in my head, like my head is its own little jukebox. And as I am playing a song, I will be looking at the audience and evaluating, and flipping through my head of all the different songs I know,” Rainezra said.

At one point during her performance she even encouraged the audience members to harmonize with her, further adding to the close-knit feeling of the concert.

On the SoFar Sounds stages, Rainezra performs a mixture of covers, beat-boxing and original songs that caused people to cheer and clap during her performance. In describing her musical stylings, Rainezra says “If I identified my sound as a whole, I want my whole sound to represent kind of early 2000s, SWV, JoJo, Alicia Keys, old school Paramore, which are completely different vibes.”

The second group who took to the stage was Presidio, a musical duo that displayed a melodic set of presentations of tunes. The third performance was from Hiroki, a local band that performed an eclectic mixture of jazzy, rock and acoustic sounds. As the audience and I harmonized with each artist, I found the interaction to be a refreshing display of community amongst everyone in the room.

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