Open Mic free-for-all... tell me your stories of starting out

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ijontyijonty Frets: 27
Hey all,

I'm sure it has been asked on here before*, but I'm about to start doing open mic night (I think) so wanted to hear about people's thoughts, experiences and advice.

Never done it before, never sang or played in public, definitely not an extrovert.

But my band is playing our first gig in a couple of months, so want to get some less pressured performances under my belt first.

There are a few venues near where I live all ran by the same people and looks like players of all abilities turn up. Mainly seem to be acoustic performers, though I'm more interested in practising plugged in.

Seems like most people go for covers to start with - really famous stuff so the drinkers in the pub hear songs they recognise and are less likely to bottle you off stage. Maybe that's how I should start, before doing originals?

Cheers,

Jon



* I don't know the rules about posting similar things to previous discussions, so let me know if I should be tagging this onto the end of someone's earlier post.


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  • guitarfishbayguitarfishbay Frets: 6781
    edited March 13
    We do originals when we do them, acoustic arrangements of the songs. 

    All the open mic nights we've done have been pretty friendly, but it's worth turning up early so you can pick a slot that suits you.  There are probably going to be regulars or people who know regulars who sign up for a slot right at the start of the evening (it's often a book you write in), so if you rock up after the night has started you could end up being on very late and having less of a crowd to play to, especially on a week night.

    It's not necessary to do a cover first IMO, there's usually a mix of people doing covers and originals.  Since you're only going to get to play a small number of songs it's worth considering what you want to get out of it.  

    It's quite fun doing it and occasionally there are some really great performers on which can be quite inspiring.
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  • LuttiSLuttiS Frets: 693
    Last band i was in formed two hours before our first performance at.. at an open mic. Three songs, 2 originals 1 cover, much improv :)

    The previous band had split three hours before this due to me and the singer deciding we'd had enough of it. We had been playing for quite a while and were no further along than after first practice. I was the drummer, moved to guitar, the singer picked up bass and sang and we called in a drummer friend. 

    So from no live playing to instant live playing within a few hours was pretty good :)

    Luckily for us we knew much of the crowd so was a good laugh, and an interesting way to announce the new venture.. 

    Always went to test new material at the open mics.


    But for your question..   If they have the capacity to plug you in go for it. Bring your mates along for support/feedback. Maybe do a bit of both covers and original? 
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  • thecolourboxthecolourbox Frets: 2833

    I've done 5 separate Open Mic type events, two were in the standard format with a blackboard and chalk to put your name down for a time slot, the other three were sort of prearranged ones but with the same kind of feel.

    One of the standard format ones was at a pub in Worcestershire where Robert Plant has been known to frequent which I was a bit nervous about. I went with my uncle as his old mate ran it and fancied doing a couple of country songs. My job was to "play some plinky plonky bits over the top" which was fine, until my acoustic pickup didn't want to work. So mid song the chap who runs it thrusts his lovely acoustic in my direction mouthing..."use this", which was very kind. Much less kind was the fact it was still in DADGAD tuning from his folk songs a few acts before. Something of a curveball!

    It was between that and the pre-arranged type ones I did that I got my act together, decided to rely on my own gear, dump the acoustic, and wrote a few tunes of my own. I did two gigs in a library to fundraise for it, and played a mixture of covers and originals. Much more enjoyable in every way, but not least because I did a mixture, so I'd say go for that. As somebody else has said it depends what you want to get out of it - if it's getting feedback on the songs then I'd be of a mind to suggest it won't be much help. If it's to get practice at getting on stage in front of strangers and learning how to perform, then I'd say it doesn't matter what you play really.

    I'm a huge introvert by the way, it's not a bad thing - everybody seems to be an extrovert who performs so you'll offer something quite different as an introvert. I've been told several times that my music and performing style is clearly introverted but that it's  all the better for it

    I want to be forgotten, and I don't want to be reminded

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  • ijontyijonty Frets: 27
    LuttiS said:


    But for your question..   If they have the capacity to plug you in go for it. Bring your mates along for support/feedback. Maybe do a bit of both covers and original? 
    They have amps there, so can certainly play electric if I want. I guess what I meant was that most people seem to be playing mellow ballad-y stuff, whereas my stuff is a bit more raucous. 


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  • Danny1969Danny1969 Frets: 3538
    I'm in an open mic house band .... we do The Chairmakers pub in Denmead once a month and The Heroes pub in Waterlooville once a month. We have people of all ability get up, sometimes on their own with a guitar but often they want some backing from the house band. I've met some good people from doing this over the last 2 years and had a lot of fun as well as played a lot more different kinds of music than I normally would. 

    The format we use for the above is electric guitar, acoustic guitar and keys but once a month we also do a Bandeoke type night where we have 2 guitars, bass and drums in the house band and people can then get up as a band or drop in the house band on guitar, vocals, bass or keys etc. 

    So if anyone here is close enough and wants to join in check out the acoustic sessions on facebook https://www.facebook.com/acousticsessionswaterlooville/ for dates and locations

    The bandeoke night is The Heroes once a month, normally near the end of the month 

    Be nice to see some people on here in real life 
    www.2020studios.co.uk 
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  • ijontyijonty Frets: 27

    As somebody else has said it depends what you want to get out of it - if it's getting feedback on the songs then I'd be of a mind to suggest it won't be much help. If it's to get practice at getting on stage in front of strangers and learning how to perform, then I'd say it doesn't matter what you play really.

    It's definitely just to get used to being on stage, not for musical feedback. I went to an open mic at the weekend and was really inspired to give it a go. I'm certainly not a good singer, but I don't suppose that really matters? People seemed friendly so doubt I'd get booed off.


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  • bluechargeboybluechargeboy Frets: 1246
    You won't get booed at an open mic night, I have seen some shockers and have never heard a boo!

    If you have originals then play them; if you do covers I find unorthodox versions to be way more interesting than straightforward covers. Personally I am generally relieved when someone plays originals! Yay, no Wonderwall!
    My band: Hedge Gods
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  • EricTheWearyEricTheWeary Frets: 6820
    My ( limited) experience of open mic nights and jam nights is that your audience is primarily the other musicians. Which means they tend to be a very polite audience and means they tend to bugger off once they've played so the last acts are playing to the bar staff. 
    I'm not entirely convinced by the OP's reasoning though - I'd find gigging in a band far less nerve racking than playing a solo set of any length. 
    I feel the warm, healing, liquid presence of God’s genuine cold-filtered grace. 
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  • ijontyijonty Frets: 27

    I'm not entirely convinced by the OP's reasoning though - I'd find gigging in a band far less nerve racking than playing a solo set of any length. 
    Basically, my gig in May will be the first time three of us have ever performed. So the idea is to get some stage practice in. I figure that it will be less nerve-racking playing to a few complete strangers who are only half listening and expecting amateurs, rather than in front of a lot of my friends (and the friends of the five other acts on the bill).

    Also, it might not be a solo set for the open mic. It could be that we do it as a band, with stripped down acoustic versions of the songs we're planning to do at the gig.

    Just as a side note: for some crazy reason, our first ever gig is booked to be an hour, though I've bargained it down to 45 minutes. Even so, I feel like bashing out a couple of open mic songs sounds less stressful than seven or eight at the gig proper.



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  • PlectrumPlectrum Frets: 489
    edited March 14
    My ( limited) experience of open mic nights and jam nights is that your audience is primarily the other musicians. Which means they tend to be a very polite audience and means they tend to bugger off once they've played so the last acts are playing to the bar staff. 
    I'm not entirely convinced by the OP's reasoning though - I'd find gigging in a band far less nerve racking than playing a solo set of any length. 

    You probably won't get to do more than 3 or 4 songs at an open mike. I love doing them and do one every week if possible but I really enjoy performing solo which helps. I'm not so much into the band thing apart from as an occasional novelty (I turned down two offers to join a band last year). I did start off playing acoustic at open mikes but swapped over to electric just to be a bit different from all the other performers.
    One day I'm going to make a guitar out of butter to experience just how well it actually plays.
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  • midlifecrisismidlifecrisis Frets: 1182
    Ive been running an open mic in waltham abbey for nearly 3 years, all styles and abilities are welcome. its true, most of the audience are the other players and their friends but its a very friendly supportive atmosphere. Ive seen scared introvert players develop into confident performers.  Lately we've been having a house drummer and so impromptu jams and bands can play but people can still do their solo performances if they prefer. Attendence is very up and down, I never know who or how many are coming. I would recomend going to a few different ones and you get to experience playing to different audiences. Its a fantastic way of meeting other musicians and many alliances are formed. For me personally I like playing at them because i get to sing, in my band apart from some backing vocals im only guitar.
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  • AustrianJohnAustrianJohn Frets: 368
    Go for it - open mic evenings are fun, and friendly.

    Something worth thinking about is how your band will react of things go wrong.

    We have a rule that the singer is always right (even when he's wrong). So if the guitarist is about to launch into a solo and the singer ploughs on with verse 3 - verse 3 it is. Or if the guitarist finishes his intro and the singer shows no inclination to start singing yet - do a few more riffs.
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  • ijontyijonty Frets: 27


    We have a rule that the singer is always right (even when he's wrong). So if the guitarist is about to launch into a solo and the singer ploughs on with verse 3 - verse 3 it is. Or if the guitarist finishes his intro and the singer shows no inclination to start singing yet - do a few more riffs.
    That's a great idea. And presumably everyone must agree that if someone messes up (the lyrics, a solo or whatever) it's best to always carry on rather than stop?


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  • AustrianJohnAustrianJohn Frets: 368
    ijonty said:


    We have a rule that the singer is always right (even when he's wrong). So if the guitarist is about to launch into a solo and the singer ploughs on with verse 3 - verse 3 it is. Or if the guitarist finishes his intro and the singer shows no inclination to start singing yet - do a few more riffs.
    That's a great idea. And presumably everyone must agree that if someone messes up (the lyrics, a solo or whatever) it's best to always carry on rather than stop?
    Absolutely. And when we've talked to friends in the audience after a performance about our cock-ups, their response is usually "what cock-ups?"
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  • ijontyijonty Frets: 27
    Thanks @AustrianJohn.

    So does anyone on here go to Open Mics in South London or Surrey?



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  • ftumchftumch Frets: 399
    Hi @ijonty im in the houseband in a jam in Blackwater near Camberly. Maybe not a million miles from you?
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  • ijontyijonty Frets: 27
    ftumch said:
    Hi @ijonty im in the houseband in a jam in Blackwater near Camberly. Maybe not a million miles from you?
    Looks like it's an hour from me, so could be a bit out of reach, but you never know...


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  • ftumchftumch Frets: 399
    If you ever fancy a drive out its at Mr Bumbles, Blackwater, every thursday 9-12 come and say hi :)
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  • soma1975soma1975 Frets: 304
    Trying to get up confidence to play out again after a decade or so and so thinking about doing something like this. Would be bricking it without the security blanket of my pedalboard!
    My Trade Feedback Thread is here

    Been uploading old tracks I recorded ages ago and hopefully some new noodles here.
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  • ijontyijonty Frets: 27
    soma1975 said:
    Trying to get up confidence to play out again after a decade or so and so thinking about doing something like this. Would be bricking it without the security blanket of my pedalboard!
    Where are you based? And in terms of your pedalboard, you mean because you'd have to go acoustic? The one I went to recently had a guy there tap-dancing on his fuzz, wah and TS.


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  • soma1975soma1975 Frets: 304
    oh I assumed you’d look like a tosspot if you rocked up to one of these with a decked out pedaltrain.

    am in Orpington, Kent. 


    My Trade Feedback Thread is here

    Been uploading old tracks I recorded ages ago and hopefully some new noodles here.
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  • BlackjackBlackjack Frets: 132
    @ijonty I too am just about to start going to the occasional open mic night but I am very much a beginner so going to try and build my confidence.
    if you can get there, there is a great open mic night at the Coach and Horses pub in Beckenham every Thursday at 8pm.  A really lovely, friendly bunch of people and well worth a visit if it's not too far for you. 
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  • soma1975soma1975 Frets: 304
    It's only about 20mins away. Will maybe pop down. Cheers. 
    My Trade Feedback Thread is here

    Been uploading old tracks I recorded ages ago and hopefully some new noodles here.
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  • NikcNikc Frets: 65
    Played solo for the first time at an open mic last night - Shocking but I enjoyed it and will be back for more :)

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  • BahHumbugBahHumbug Frets: 123
    I do open mics and folk clubs regularly, albeit I'm over in Gloucestershire.  It's well worth doing and much more nerve inducing than playing in a band.  But very rewarding and worthwhile.  Audiences are invariably very polite and accepting, no matter how well you perform.  It's grass roots music, not professional, and TBH everyone else is going through a similar experience so they know what it's like.
    top tip: don't try anything flashy first (or second) time out.
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  • ijontyijonty Frets: 27
    edited March 22
    Nikc said:
    Played solo for the first time at an open mic last night - Shocking but I enjoyed it and will be back for more

    I’ve heard it’s addictive! So what was it like getting up the nerve to step up? Was alcohol required? And how ‘shocking’ were you really? I’ll bet you weren’t anywhere near as bad as you thought.


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  • JalapenoJalapeno Frets: 3276
    edited March 22
    Get in !

    Only advice - Book an early slot so (a) you're not angst ridden all evening, and (b) the really good guys (usually later on) don't make you feel inadequate. Make sure you can hear yourself (or just belt it out, it's virtually guaranteed that there will be worse than you).
    Imagine something sharp and witty here ......

    Feedback
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  • soma1975soma1975 Frets: 304
    Jalapeno said:
     it's virtually guaranteed that there will be worse than you).
    Challenge accepted. 
    My Trade Feedback Thread is here

    Been uploading old tracks I recorded ages ago and hopefully some new noodles here.
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  • ijontyijonty Frets: 27
    Well, I’m sat in the pub right now, building up some nerve to step up to the mic...


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  • NikcNikc Frets: 65
    get in i'm sure you'll be great ;)
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