Chaquis Maliq | First Sofar Sounds Experience

by Musician Chaquis Maliq

A goal I set out to accomplish, once I picked up the guitar, was to tour without playing open mics. It’s just not my thing. I find it odd to play in front of most other musicians. I believe in fresh ears, without any bias, and an audience that wants to experience music in a manner that doesn’t necessarily care for the radio and cover songs.  I started playing Mr. Maliq (My Guitar) late Spring 2011 and did my first show in December 2011 with a drummer and bassist. I was simply not ready to hit the stage by myself. I’d tell you more about that show, but that’s not what this article is about. Apparently, I survived, because it’s 2019, I’m the EccentroSoul 1 Woman Band, and I’m still touring. My tour began in 2012 and became my living in 2013. I did one open mic so my musician friends in Baltimore could see me play solo, back in 2012. But since then, I’ve always wanted to play a Sofar Sounds show.

Photo by Eliza Goldstein.

After so many attempts over a 7-year span of submitting to Sofar Sounds everywhere (even the city I’m based out of, Charleston); April 29, 2019, I finally got to do that. Play a Sofar Sounds show in Gainesville, FL. As a full-time artist, I always hope for things to work out perfectly. But that’s hardly ever the case, and I’ve learned that over the years. Sometimes, shows get canceled or don’t pull through to help the tour make sense. Surely, this happened right up to my Sofar Sounds debut. Yes, the changes left me frustrated.

My first stop on this tour was the Inman Park Festival in Atlanta, GA (4/27/19), and it was such a great time. The audience and staff overflowed with such positive energy and love. Then reality hit me with a blunt force. I now have to drive back to Charleston, SC and return this rental car in the morning; just to turn around and rent another car the following morning, to arrive at the Sofar Sounds Gainesville show.

I’m behind schedule and thinking about how I desperately wanted the secret location to be a public space for my comfort. The universe simply disagreed with my desire and I had no idea why. I always make it a point to have a contact number on hand for shows, just in case there’s a hold-up. I did the right thing and contacted the organizer, and I arrived to an oversized loft-cabin, tucked in the middle of dancing trees, overlooking marshland, trailed by the perfect bridge to nowhere.

I’m approached by one of the performers, Acho Brother, who assisted me with a swift unload, while I made it in before the doors open to the attendees. I walked into a home of pure art! The architecture is indescribable.  The Sofar team introduced themselves and handed me the official customized poster for the show. As we sound-checked, I began to worry if I was first. Then I was reassured that I was going second. That news took a notch off of the nervousness, in time for me to have a photo shoot on the bridge to nowhere.

The show opens with Acho Brother. His sound made me feel grateful to be in the same line-up. The way he caressed his axe was pure, and produced the traditional notes of the Moors OUD. I was definitely intrigued by the Afro-Latino melodies and rhythms. Now the host is introducing me and if I wasn’t ready, I had to be ready. My name was pronounced correctly, and I re-introduced myself as I always do. I let the audience know that it was my first house show and Sofar Sounds show, as I began to play the notes to “You Are”, off of my first EP, ‘Harmonies of Me.’ I am very asthmatic and have to project my voice a certain way to keep my diaphragm from ruining my vocals. So, singing in straight silence was a bit awkward. I typically practice with distractions to be prepared for the real thing. However, I did practice in silence for this show, and it was killing me. By the time I got to the second song, I thought I was ready. I’m probably being too hard on myself, but I wanted to follow the rules and keep my volume at the level of the space. To be honest, I like to jam out and have a good time with the crowd. Meaning, I can get lost in a song, because I’m feeling it more than usual. Finally, the third song, ‘Music and Me.’ I chose to do the song believing it would cure my nervousness. I requested the participation of the audience and they obliged. What a relief! I have to remember that I’m being recorded and not to play too hard, sing with a distinctive presence, or too loud. That’s a lot to think about while I’m, singing, playing the guitar, playing the Cajon on my right foot, and foot instruments on my left foot, then remembering to teach the crowd their parts. Sofar Sounds Gainesville did not disappoint. They were on point! I switched up my lyrics and they still knew what to sing. The applause captivated me, as I closed out my set. The genuine echos left my heart smiling, followed by a consolation from the venue’s host. I was invited to stay the night, to keep me off the back roads of the south overnight. The Universe spoke and kept me safe. I have truly learned why my plans may not be perfect.

Please check out my Sofar Sounds video below. Thank you!

For more information about Chaquis click here. For booking inquiries call or text your Neon Agent at 716-836-6366.