Open Mic. Day 1

Did you know that I host an open mic?

I do.  I’ve been doing so since last October and it’s my pleasure to tell you that it is always a total wild card.  Saying that my open mic is like a box of chocolates would be an understatement, since sometimes I’m so shocked at the people that come by to perform that words escape me.  But I’ll do my best to express tonight’s excitement.

The open mic is the first three Tuesdays of the month at Brainwash Cafe in San Francisco’s SOMA neighborhood.  It’s pretty much the quaintest place you could possibly imagine.  It’s a laundromat/cafe with art on the walls that has live music every night except Thursdays when they do Comedy.  I love this place and its staff with all my heart.

I did my best to host a ragtag group of performers tonight.  I always like to start the evening with my singing bowl.  I believe that its a proper way to introduce an evening of music, since music is (for me) the most sacred of all sacreds.  After I sang my bowl I introduced the first act that signed up.  They  were a couple of white dudes that weren’t quite ready when I introduced them so I gave the crowd a Rilke song while the other guys got themselves situated.  My song went pretty well and the crowd was totally into it.  So I finished and got the dudes up after me to play and they shredded it up!  They both had really nice voices and both knew how to play the guitar the right way.  I figured the evening might go pretty well.

I wasn’t wrong.

The next performers were even better.  The first was a lady that gave an incredibly moving testimony about going into chemotherapy tomorrow.  Then she sang and really let it rip.  And when I say that her music took me “there,”  I hope you know what I mean by “there.”  Then there were a couple of kids that had just graduated high school that got up and they played their little indie pop sounds with passion.  I thought they were adorable.  Then I played and did my thing.  I think people were pretty into it.  There was this one Brainwash regular who hasn’t missed a Tuesday open mic yet.  It’s not that he is necessarily there for me because I know for a fact that he sits at Brainwash all day drinking their two dollar PBR’s all day.  But it is true that he sticks around to hear me play every week.  And after I finished my set this week he told me the following:  “I was right there with you for every note,” and “You just sparkle!”  I don’t know this dude’s name, and I’d almost like to keep it that way, but his words moved me tonight.

Then there was this chick named Jesse that got up and played.  She had her friend Augustine try to play the drums with her.  They were terrible.  They had no sense of time.  Their words sounded like some crazy rant.  And as they were playing, people got up to leave, go outside for a smoke, or go to the bathroom.  They had totally killed the mood, and while I normally don’t have a problem with this, they took it to a new level when Augustine picked up my singing bowl and gave it a disinformed clunk.  I threw up my hands in disgust, went up to the stage and reclaimed my singing bowl giving this dude a stern look.  The chick trying to rap some poetry stopped and I asked her if she was done.  She looked at me confusedly.  I then took the mic from her and announced their names to the crowd that was still there.  They got some very mild claps.

I tried to get the remaining crowd back into it, but they were already gone.  So the remaining three performers were playing to a crowd of about five disinterested people.  Oh well.

Then during one of the other performer’s set this Jesse chick came up and told me how “whack” she thought it was that I had interrupted her act.  I tried to explain my reasoning for cutting them short.  My reasoning was simply thus:  Some people have IT, and some people don’t.  They didn’t.  That doesn’t mean that they don’t possess the ability to acquire IT, but it does mean that they didn’t have IT tonight.  A feeling I know perfectly well.

I’m happy to report that I made some enemies out of those two, as she went onto complain to the barista about my response to her.  OH WELL… can’t win ’em all.

But all in all, tonight was one of the better open mics that has ever happened.  I have a feeling that the magic was able to show up because of the fact that I’ve started treating the things I do in life with the seriousness (in a goofy sort of way) that they deserve.

A Nickel Don’t Hurt:

4 comments on “Open Mic. Day 1

  1. hmm says:

    Sounds like you should’ve just let them finish. An open mic is supposed to be about people coming together to share a love of music… who are you, really, to judge who is “talented” enough to participate in this sharing and who is not? It sounds like you were rude and pretentious, which, frankly, aren’t the kinds of qualities you look for in an open mic host. Who cares if they weren’t very good? Who cares if they alienated part of the audience?

    Also, as someone who’s been to the Brainwash Cafe, you don’t seem to be aware of the correct definition of “quaint.”

    • Maybe I should have let them finish. It definitely did keep me up for a bit last night.
      But I had to draw the line when the dude clanged my singing bowl. I’m pretty tickled by most performers most of the time. and this is the first time that I’ve ever stopped someone before.

      and I was going with these sorts of definitions of quaint: Strange or odd in an interesting, pleasing, or amusing way.  [quotations ▼]
      Highly incongruous, inappropriate, or illogical; naive, unreasonable — usually used ironically.

  2. Hosting an open mic can be a brutal experience, I have done it and while I never stopped anybody, I have been sorely tempted to, out of an attempt to protect my audience and keep them not only there, but coming back.
    Open Mic scenes are an entry level gig, but the musicians should still bring something worth listening to and the host should be honest with them if they are not up to speed. the is not enough honesty towards musicians, hence the American Idol tryouts, wherein really bad musicians get told they suck for the first time by someone. Their friends and family should have spared them the pain long ago.

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