Open-mic nights: Your list of performers

Open Mic Nights by Tom NashIn my last post about who you see on the beach, I mentioned ‘The cunt with a guitar’. Some of you may have thought ‘that’s a bit harsh’, but I don’t. I stand by my sentiments.

However, I do feel I should acknowledge that not everyone that aspires to a career in the music industry is a cunt (although I understand that it helps if you are). This post should sort that.

While I can still buss out a mean ambulance siren on a recorder and during my teens was often found spitting fiyah over Drum & Bass beats, nowadays my own musical ability is limited to solo Crystal Palace chants when I’m walking home drunk. While living in a university town, I have discovered that there are plenty of venues that allow the musically inclined to share their talent with the world. Here are a few of the usual suspects at these ‘open-mic’ nights:

The first timer
Usually quiet and almost apologetic when they first hit the mic, maybe the first couple of bars are a bit shaky and they miss a chord or two, but by the second verse (provided their audience isn’t a bunch of unsupportive arseholes) they get well into it and generally reveal themselves to be:

The annoyingly good
Maybe you met them some time and didn’t like them, maybe you made a judgement on their appearance and accent as they made their introduction, or maybe you’re one of the people that never learned an instrument and is a little bitter about it. Whatever; the details don’t matter. As this person starts playing, you just hope that they suck. When it is revealed that they don’t, it can either come as a pleasant surprise or simply fuel your hatred further. Your choice…

The downer
This chirpy fucker steps up to the microphone and declares that they are going to sing ‘…a song I wrote when I was coming down off pills.’ Exactly what you’re looking for when you’re drinking vast amounts of depressant. They will then try to suck as much life out of the room as is possible in three minutes. Then they’ll probably play a dreary cover of Wonderwall to try and perk everyone up.

The performance poet
Too middle-class to get away with rapping, their uniform appears to be a shit beard, a lisp and being slightly miffed at something. They tend to stand too close to the mic while they blurt out a muffled and fuck-strewn stream-of-consciousness and will then swagger around the pub like a cardigan-wearing Fonzie for the rest of the evening. I blame Scroobius Pip for every single one of them.

My mate John
The Peter Jackson of open-mic nights. The only man in the world that can take a three minute song and make it last ten minutes but not add anything that wasn’t in the original. The only man in the world who can make an Elvis Presley number sound like something by Bob Dylan. The only man in the world who can get away with singing half a verse before stopping and deciding to play something completely different.

John, we salute you.

Check out the links page of my website for some annoyingly good musicians that I recommend you keep track of, along with some excellent writers (that aren’t as bitter, judgemental and sweary as me), illustrators, photographers and designers (graphics, jewellery and other craft stuff).