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An Open Mic Observation

By Amanda

Like a thousand knives assaulting my senses, the cold cut through my bones as i took refuge in the warm entreance of The Cancun, its glow shining like a porch light, welcoming me home. Indeed, like a home away from home the inviting souds of chatter moved me to meander down the steps and into the lower portion of the house of rock. The voices gave way to waving hands and freindly head nods as i found myself a chair at an empty table. Socialization would be put off a moment so as to allow myself to collect my bearings, the chill of winter still shaking my bones. A young man was in the front of the room, opposite the empty bar, playing and singing his heart into a microphone. At once i took notice that there was a certain amount of attention being paid to his talent, but all parts remaining were divided among clusters of quiet chatter and a few lonesome artists; one scribbling down words in a worn-in notebook and another conducting a charcoal pencil in careless strokes that defiantly went in opposition of the rhythms of the singing guitar. The occasional outburst from a selected individual in high spirits was hardly anything to look up about. There was a familiarity to the atmosphere; a comfortable, relaxed tone that drenched my chills in a warm bath of contented informality. This was the average observations to be recorded about an open mic of Friday nights. But, as in all conscious observations, there beckons a closer inspection.

A rock show put on at The Cancun, with its high energy, loud, explosive sounds often jump on the eardrums with an unstable, unpredictable enthusiasm. Though the clumsy dance of such an event is one often welcomed and throughly enjoyed, there is a unique reception given to the calm, quiet gatherings of the open mic. Almost in complete opposition of the reheared, closely planed sets that usually ring about the building's walls, the Friday night assembly of rockers and poets and writer who bare witness to each others talents on a raw, sometimes of an intamte event. There is a deeper bearing of ones inner most workings as a musician finds himself alone in the warm spotlight created by the attentiveness of his peers. There is no distortion to hide imperfections and no amount of jumping about can provide relief from unsettled nerves. Truely it is an honest display of talent, or lack of which presents its case each time a new contributor takes a seat behind the microphone. Of all the many artists that share their work by piping it through an unforgiving amplification, it is hardly ever noted that after the echo dies any type of crude or otherwise unfavorable comments or judgements are offered.

It is almost an odd occusrrence, that is, the lack of critism. Odd, but in the same breath more appreciated that it is given credit. Is it strange at all, considering the audience? I must confess a certain love affair, and so a favored bias, with our "music scene". There is an unspoken commonality that keeps eberyone in certain equilibrium, and so there is hardly ever an effort made to otherwise judge a fellow member of such an open and friendly scene. I go so far as to suspect a discreet demonstration of encouragement from local patrons of the music community and so there lies a lovely feeling of eager reception from the listeners towards the artist.

The Open Mic's on Friday evening are something of a truly honest innocence. There is beauty in the unity and kinship that shines as brightly each time there is an assembly of talent willing to share, but more so is a feeling of community as an artist is able to play, read, or perform with full confidence of a supportive audience. Like a home away from home, the comfort found among my musical peers is appreciated far beyond the words i struggle to grasp and clumsily place in a few paragraphs.

where to go after a show