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Open mic experience: out of tune CHUMPS


wades_keys

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I've been making the rounds at a variety of open mics, just to keep my chops up.

 

Against my better judgement, I went into this bar a few blocks from me that hosts mostly "original" stuff.

 

Well, not only did I get the cold shoulder - "well, sign the list". But, I play bass and just want to back some of you guys - "well, sign the list". But I got to hear some of the most out of tune awful caterwauling I've ever heard. So, I go home and grab my bass anyway. Because in my experience with other open mics: people are HAPPY to see a bass player and will graciously offer me a spot up there. Nope, not these {censored}s. Just their little clique going on.

 

So, I go a little bit Jaco and I wait until the last act is playing - seeing as noone would let me up. These cats are rapping over a pretty easy bass line in what sounds like the key of E to me. So {censored} it I say: get up on stage and plug in my bass. The guy tells me: "E#". WTF? That's F. But it ain't F. It's somewhere in between E and F. Okay: I play a note or two and realize it's not working but then the {censored}er unplugs my cable. Okay. At this point I'm ready to bust some {censored}ing heads. Seriously. Disrespect. I mean: you guys SUCK. Really: you suck.

 

And here's the thing: EVERY OTHER OPEN MIC I"VE BEEN TOO has been gracious and allowed me to show what I can do. But now: I'm getting the HOOK from some CHUMPS? REALLY?

 

And get this: I have a convo afterwards with a cat that I talked to before, and I ask him: "Why the hell don't you guys tune up". You know what he says?

 

He says: "We play original music here. Everyone just tunes to one another". :facepalm:

 

So I say: "Look man, this ain't about original or covers. This is about holding to STANDARDS. A 440 exists for a REASON. Why don't you all tune to standard pitch?".

 

All I got was more bull{censored}.

 

And you know what I took away from all this?

 

This is why original music tends to SUCK. This fly free, anything goes mentality coupled with the cliqueishness that eliminates others from the "fold". I walked out of there saying "{censored} those mother{censored}ers and {censored} this place". God, what a bunch of CHUMPS. I can't believe it!

 

But you know I should have known better than to lower my standards to get on stage with these HACKS. CHUMPS. Non playing mother{censored}ers. You know who you are.

 

I'll say this much: keep wearing your suits and hats and talking all your bull{censored} hippie jive. You can't even tune your goddamned guitar, and you hold an "open" mic that really isn't "open" except to your kin and ilk. CHUMPS. Never again. OMG: what a waste of my time.

 

I can say this though: I sat out on the patio with a dude's acoustic guitar and actually played and sang songs that people had HEARD BEFORE, and had girls and a few others singing along. And I don't even play guitar. CHUMPS. Have some standards. Tune that goddamned thing. God, what a freaking waste of my time. But you know: they'll keep on SUCKING while I'll keep on getting better.

 

CHUMPS.

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I gotta say this though: it was cool to actually bust out some heartfelt guitar and vocals that I knew would entertain, and DID entertain, the people around me. I didn't need the microphone or the stage to do that. Told the cat I couldn't really play but did 3 songs straight through: more than he was capable of. Had his own girlfriend singing along LOL.

 

That's called getting OWNED. But that wasn't my intent. Just kinda worked out that way. Later y'all: I'll be around.

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I've had good/bad experiences at open jams/open mics. IME, the best musicians seem to be the nicer guys. Maybe it's because they're not threatened by new musicians showing up? I don't now. Sounds like the jam you went to just wasn't a good fit.

 

I don't really go to them anymore because they're mostly during the week and I have to get up at 6am. You seem to be more worked up over this than it is worth.

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I've done a few open mics, and I know that for the first few, I was shaking in my shoes and doing all I could just to remember the lyrics and the three chords I was going to play. I know it would have really thrown me off to have someone sit in.

 

I don't know about the one that you went to, but many open mics are the first time a lot of people have ever played in front of anyone but their cat. You can't always expect pro-level performers.

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I thought "open mic" was about self-contained musical units performing, as opposed to a "jam session" where guys expect to mix and match. I staying up on stage once on a jam night when no other keyboard players were in the house, only to find out that the next group that came up was a performing band. My bad . . . . they didn't specifically ask me up. I apologized afterwards.

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Yeah, the open mic scene can definitely be cliquish. I got that vibe when I did it back in 2007 and even more so when I watched a friend and a cousin go up 'onstage' (just on the floor in a corner) last year.

 

Like anyone who enters an unfamiliar world, it's a good idea to study the surroundings and how things work first rather than just doing your own thing regardless of what everyone else is doing. I would have hung out for an hour, saw that things weren't for me, and left. That whole situation wouldn't have even happened. I would have already determined that these people were amateurs, they can't tune, they don't know what they are doing, but it's okay within their little cocoon. The older I get, the less tolerance I have for people that lack the skills necessary for music to be an enjoyable experience for me.

 

I don't make it a point to go to open mics because I just don't get much enjoyment out of spending lots of money on drinks as I wait for my little moment to shine. When I finally do get my time, seems like most people don't care anyway. They're just talking with their friends and waiting until they get up there too. I'm not much of a drinker, so it's more like pay to play to me. I have to pay for drinks and possibly food as I wait to play up onstage for nothing. When the payoff from the audience is apathy or boredom, what incentive is there for me to do it? Nada, zero, zip, zilch.

 

I'd rather lead my little trio, have a great time playing songs people like and going home with a couple hundred or more in my pocket at the end of the night. Much more fun for me. :cool:

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I thought "open mic" was about self-contained musical units performing, as opposed to a "jam session" where guys expect to mix and match. I staying up on stage once on a jam night when no other keyboard players were in the house, only to find out that the next group that came up was a performing band. My bad . . . . they didn't specifically ask me up. I apologized afterwards.

 

 

One time I went to a jam and when they finally brought me up it was with a "band" and their guitarist was giving me giving me crap the entire time. I talked to the guy running the jam and that is who he put me up there with. I get up there and I'm being friendly and asking them "what do you want to play" and the guy starts giving me attitude like I am stepping on his gig and tells me "we're a band man... you know like a real band". I thought to myself "this is a jam, not a gig". After two songs the band leader comes back up and plays some other song. I was a good 25-30 years younger than these guys, but this was a small time jam in a small town I had just moved to when I got out of school. I had spent the last 2-3 years playing out 3-4 times a week while I was in school and had attended weekly jams run by pros who never gave me the same **** these guys did.

 

I had another bad experience after that similar to what Wade was describing and, like Tim, just decided open jams aren't for me anymore. I will still go from time to time if it's run by a musician I know, but I don't want to sit there for 2-3 hours listening to hacks just so I can play for 15 minutes with guys who may or may not know how to play.

 

It's been really disappointing to me, too. Those first jams I would go to there were a ton of top notch musicians and for the most part everyone treated me great. Maybe I've changed, I don't know... but I definitely know the musicianship in those jams was a lot better because of (a) my ears told me so and (b) the names/acts some of these guys toured and played with.

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I remember another time a bandleader I knew called me up to be part of the house band for the open jam. I knew the bandleader was unorganized, but I figured what the hell I will give it a go. I didn't want anyone using my amp, but that was mainly for people I didn't know. That was about the only rule the bandleader had the entire night. People just plugged in and played whatever they wanted. It was stuff like "One Way Out" with some guy attempting to shred over the entire thing. The song was over and the guy was still playing. That bandleader could never keep guys in his bands, but he always did seem to have a steady stream of gigs.

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I don't go to many open mics, the ones I have, you sign up and then do your thing. There are various groups, tht practice for their spot. I don't think they'd welcome a stranger into their midst.

 

Jams seem more the place to sit in. I avoid those as I find haphazard noodling around to be boring, but that's just me.

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I don't make it a point to go to open mics because I just don't get much enjoyment out of spending lots of money on drinks as I wait for my little moment to shine. When I finally do get my time, seems like most people don't care anyway. They're just talking with their friends and waiting until they get up there too. I'm not much of a drinker, so it's more like pay to play to me. I have to pay for drinks and possibly food as I wait to play up onstage for nothing. When the payoff from the audience is apathy or boredom, what incentive is there for me to do it? Nada, zero, zip, zilch.

 

Concur 100%

 

I have all but given up on these things for the same reasons. What I also see a lot of, which baffles me, is many of these are run by the "Star" of some band. A regular gigging band. And 90% of the night is this very band going through their set :facepalm:

 

That's not open in any sense of the word. If they would just call it what it really is, "An evening with Generic Band #172" I probably would enjoy it more, but when it's billed as "Come on out and jam!" it tends to be sort of a waste of time to even bring my gear.

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Some of the best posts on Harmony Central happen after closing time! Half kidding, but when you get a group of clique-ish musicians together combined with a lack of talent, you'll find that they don't want somebody with less talent mucking the works up further and they certainly don't want somebody with more talent showing them up. The fact that you saw this {censored} storm coming and still chose to insert yourself into it seems rather... well, confrontational at best.

 

I've never really enjoyed most open mic/jams for all the reasons stated in this thread and more, especially anything concerning no tuning standards. But I went to expose myself to different styles, players and situations and learned a lot about more than just music because of it. Some of the best that I've been to were where a bunch of seasoned (not nesessarily old) players where kind of enough to let some stupid little metalhead kid (me) sit in and offer up some sage advice over drinks afterwards. And the little metalhead kid (me, again) being smart enough to listen and not think that he had it all figured out. I'll readily admit that those were few and far between, however!

 

As a side note, I really never saw the definitions of "open mic" and "jam session" as different until someone pointed it out on this thread.

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I wouldn't take away the lesson that originals suck, rather that those guys were playing a FREE open jam for a reason. Seems they lacked the basic skills to get paid for performing.

 

And I would expect if they have a sign up list, that they should have let him up to play, although why he'd want to, I have no idea.

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I was asked to play bass for a jam session band at a local bar. The guitarist and drummer were two guys in their 60's who had played together in college and still played in a church band. Not really bad, but everything they did was 70's folk/rock or country/rock kind of stuff...Eagles, America, CSN&Y, etc. I like that kind of music, but not all night long. When they'd ask me to sing one, I'd do Chuck Berry or Elvis and the crowd loved it. The weird part is that nobody got up to jam.

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LOL Oh man, open mics, that brings back memories...

 

Long story short my first experience with one at all was in high school, I had gotten recruited by a guy that I played with who had graduated ahead of me, and he wanted me to play with them...they were the hosts of one at this really {censored}ty dive bar...Me being as naive as I was and only having played original gigs up until that point as I was only a junior, I had no idea what the hell an open mic was, but I was so excited to be making money getting paid to play that I thought "Hellyeah!" It was also nice cuz they were hosting so I would play their bass and didn't have to bring anything...

 

All I can say is that it was a complete {censored}ing joke, it was basically just a bunch of people that just wanted to get liquored up and bang on someone eles's instrument...Also, no one was paying ANY attention to ANYONE playing, it was just the folks that had signed up, impatiently staring, tapping their feet with their arms crossed waiting for their turn "on stage" (which like someone else said was just a corner of the floor LOL)...I only ened up doing it a few times, cuz then they found another bassist, and since the money was nowhere near what I thought I'd be making AND it was the complete joke I just described I really wasn't all that bummed about it LOL....

 

The thing is I never got anywhere near one again (as a muso, sometimes they'd be happening unbeknownst to me and my buddies or a chick I was dating whenever we went out somewhere, and it seemed to be the same exact thing, even from a distance) and I even walked/got kicked out of a band for not wanting to host one, I told the guys what a joke they were but they were convicnced it was good "exposure" LOL.

 

I'm not knocking folks that do it, and I'm sure there are open mics out there that are positive experiences, but I've gotta say from my own experience I honestly have no idea why ANYONE would want to waste their time at one, either playing or watching, or trying to "network" to meet new musos....Like I said everytime I saw one it was just a bunch of guys (or girls) who I got the sense never played in a band or just couldn't stay in one or whatever, so they figured playing an open mic was the next best thing, but it really wasn't, I mean what was the point of playing for a handful of musos that are completely ignoring you just impatiently watiting for their turn, and all the non musos in the joint just seemed to be annoyed by the whole thing and weren't paying attention at all...

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