April 24 – Charly Bliss, F. Stokes, Lovely Liar, Wooly & the Mammoth

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Finding a home for our increasing fan base isn’t always simple, so we were ecstatic when Jon Morris of the Windmill Factory offered up his live-in workspace for April’s gig.

Perhaps best known for the Hudson River installation “Reflecting the Stars,” the Windmill Factory is a unique interactive design and art initiative that seeks to “spark a sublime moment for the public”—a mission not unlike that of Sofar. And so it came to be that our diverse range of performers sang, stomped and improv’ed their way through a screen-printed forest, complete with astroturf rug.

First up was Charly Bliss, a newcomer to Sofar, who came to us (thank you college!) through a friend of an NYU friend. Made up of siblings Sam and Eva, along with their pals Spencer and Kevin, the quartet grew up together in Westport, CT, but are relatively new to the NYC music scene. Led by Eva’s quirky vocals—a tone both pinched and soulfully rough—their distinct mix of indie pop offers cut-to-the-chase, upbeat originals and addictive covers alike.

Next up was Sofar veteran F. Stokes, a spoken word/hip hop artist who transcends both genres and expectations. Having literally just jumped off his bike, Stokes launched straight into a reminiscent flow, crafted on his very first NY job as a bathroom attendant. The experience was a veritable Ph.D in social tendencies, the likes of which pervade his uniquely perceptive verse. He instantly wowed the crowd, including Spencer of Charly Bliss, whom he recruited to spontaneously spar guitar with his in-the-moment verse.

After a brief interlude that introduced the audience to Candy, the Windmill Factory’s “saber tooth” mascot, we succumbed to the soothing sounds of Lovely Liar. Infused with a coolly jaded, 1960s storytelling vibe (recalling the likes of Serge Gainsbourg), the group’s lead singer, Tatiana Pajkovic, seduces with a wise, lived-in voice that spans more octave than expected. Yet, it’s in her lower range that Pajkovic resonates most clearly, as on the song “Glorious Hollywood”.

And then came a surprise performance by Leah Siegel of “Firehorse”, a favorite of Sofar NYC organizer Jodie Belman and girlfriend (yet another asset of the location) of Windmill Factory founder Jon Morris. Though she claimed acoustic guitar might render her song a bit of a dud, the stripped down sound proved how beautifully raw and brave Siegel is in her upper register. Barely whispered notes, thick with emotion, revealed why many before me have described her as akin to the late Jeff Buckley.

Closing the set was Wooly & the Mammoth, the perfect companions for our indoor woodland setting. Falling within the “folk revival” movement, this budding young band layered percussion—from the buckles on their boots to tambourine and an expertly played cajon— under fiddle, guitar, and co-ed vocals. Their casual tone and round-the-campfire vibe was an upbeat end to yet another incredible night of intimate Sofar Sound.

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