On Saturday night, Sofar Sounds hosted R&B singer M3CCA, poet T. Odis and rappers KoolQuise and So-So Topic for a secret show at The Grove, a coworking space in the West End.
Sofar Sounds, which stands for Songs From a Room, began in 2009 with the goal of offering artists and fans intimate performances. They won't tell you the lineup until you get to the show, and they don’t even give you a location until the day before the event. Instead of standing around and paying for overpriced drinks in a huge venue packed with too many drunk people, Sofar Sounds lets you BYOB and get up close and personal with musicians in a laid-back environment.
Saturday night a small crowd sat on blankets on The Grove's floor, eating snacks, drinking and chatting as they awaited the performance. Around 6:45 p.m., slam poet T. Odis introduced the show, which was the first artist-curated Sofar Sounds show in Dallas-Fort Worth.
The first to go on was R&B singer M3CCA, who performed “Photosynthesis” with help from two guitarists, one of whom also played keys during the show; a DJ working a drum pad; and another guy adding more percussion on his cajon box. The soulful singer did a few more songs before handing the stage over to T. Odis. The Chicago-born poet was only supposed to host — according to posters hanging in the room, Don Juan was supposed to be the second act — but Don Juan didn’t show up, so T. Odis performed a few poems in his stead.
T. Odis' poetry touched on recent developments in his life such as his marriage and the birth of a child, but he also talked about darker times. While delivering one poem titled “Dear Alicia,” he elicited laughter from the crowd when he said, “I hope your weave gets cut in your zipper,” about a woman who'd broken his heart.
“I walked around my mama’s house singing ‘You’re Beautiful’ by James Blunt for two days straight in my bathrobe,” he says of his reaction after she broke up with him over text message. And then, one of his best lines: “The next time you run across my mind, baby, I’m gonna stick my foot out and I’m gonna watch you trip.”
But T. Odis also got deeper and more personal, holding the audience’s attention in a death grip. He spoke openly and powerfully about his father's and grandfathers' jobs and addictions in a poem that was arguably the highlight of the entire night.
The final set began early, around 8:10. Many in the audience had hoped and assumed that we’d get to see some of -topic’s new music, which he’s been working on after his backpack was stolen last month. But we didn’t hear any new music from -topic — we barely heard any music from him at all.
KoolQuise rapped a few songs, while DJ Mike B scratched records and Ric Jones played the drums. So-So Topic played bass guitar — something we've rarely seen him do — while wearing his “Legalize Being Black” shirt and a big smile. He said the band was supposed to include another guitarist and a saxophone player, but like Don Juan, they never showed up.
After a couple songs, KoolQuise brought an audience member to the stage to suggest phrases for KoolQuise to freestyle about, leading to songs about pineapple juice, pooting and the dodo bird. The intimate environment would’ve been the perfect opportunity for So-So Topic to really open up and let loose, as even his shows at bigger venues are filled with passion and emotion. While he’s been previewing snippets of his upcoming album on social media, he only played “Noid (Null and Void)” from 2011.
To follow Sofar Sounds, visit their webpage here.
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