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Playing Open Mic Nights

Discussion in 'Band Wagon' started by LiveAtLeeds, Sep 27, 2011.

  1. LiveAtLeeds

    LiveAtLeeds Tele-Meister

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    The band I'm in (a guitar, drums, singer kind of thing - think Black keys and white stripes) is looking to start gigging. So to start things off we figured we'd start small, playing 2-3 songs at an open mic night. I just found out that I'm expected to use the venue's equipment. How does this work? Obviously I'm going to bring my own guitar, but is it frowned upon if I bring a pedalboard? What if the 'house amp' is some kind of modelling/solid state deal that doesn't take pedals? Basically, I'm just wondering what is expected of the band gear-wise in these situations. Any advice? This is all pretty new to me.
     
  2. Old Cane

    Old Cane Poster Extraordinaire

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    Just set up and play. The last thing you need to worry about is amp and drum pedal. Around here "open mic" nights are writer oriented. "Jam" nights are player oriented.
     
  3. Big_Bend

    Big_Bend Poster Extraordinaire

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    I usually just take a pedal board and guitar with me and just play it by ear when I get to an open mic jam whatever. Sometimes I bring my DRRI amp too. Then after scoping out the setup I'll know what I can take on stage with me.

    If I'm expected to totally use whatever gear is on stage and just plug in, hopefully they'll let me turn some knobs at least. I can always find a decent tone on any setup given a minute or so to twist things.

    Part of the game, adapting quick. Its all educational, stressful, and a lot of fun too. My band we did quite a few open mic nights just to get the experience when we were starting out. Highly recommended.

    Trip report afterwords plz.
     
  4. LiveAtLeeds

    LiveAtLeeds Tele-Meister

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    Effects pedal, not a drum pedal. I need my fuzz! I'm not sure what you mean by 'jam' nights, but this is the place's monthly 'plugged in' open mic, so they should be expecting a bit of volume. (let's hope so, anyways...)
     
  5. twintwelve

    twintwelve Tele-Afflicted

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    Stop by the venue that is holding the open mic night. Check out the scene. Introduce yourself to the host(s) and let him know that you are thinking of coming by the following week, and what kind of music you do. Don't do this while he is in the middle of getting folks on or off stage. Then stick around and watch a few of that evening's acts. Pay attention to how long they are given to set up, and if any of them have brought their own amps. At the jams I run, I don't care if you bring your own amp, as long as you get it set up QUICKLY, and don't play too f'n loud! Be professional (tune offstage, know what songs you are going to do, dress the part). Bring a recording device and record your performance. If you guys kill it, you get a free live demo. If not, you get a chance to hear what you need to work on in real time!
     
  6. LiveAtLeeds

    LiveAtLeeds Tele-Meister

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    Heh, well, it's actually tonight. Recording the gig's a good idea, listening to myself play live alternates between being invigorating and humbling (mostly the latter, but anything can happen). We have a setlist, but we're allowed to play longer depending on how many other acts show, and we're ready for that too.
     
  7. GigsbyBoyUK

    GigsbyBoyUK Friend of Leo's

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    As someone who runs two open mic nights all I can say is that twintwelve's advice is spot on - talk to the organiser and be professional and you'll be fine.

    One thing that is a drag is when people spend ages searching for their perfect tone: it's an open mic, we have lots of people who want to play and we don't have time for lengthy sound checks. You do need to compromise a bit when you play open mics and learn to deal with what's available.
     
  8. LiveAtLeeds

    LiveAtLeeds Tele-Meister

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    Well, we played it last night. Since the venue is looking to book us for a real gig (apparently this was an audition of sorts), it can't have gone too badly!

    I had to use someone else's amp, a zt lunchbox, which sounded surprisingly good when I was playing clean, but once I hit the fuzz, it just muddied up. I didn't want be, like Gigsby said, that guy who has to have the perfect tone, so I just rolled with it.
     
  9. Big_Bend

    Big_Bend Poster Extraordinaire

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    Good deal! Glad you made it up there. Hope ya'll get hired at the venue too. Then you'll have your own amp. :p

    But ya open mic is all about compromise and moving quick. A great way to get experience without too much pressure. And like anything, the more you do 'em teh easier they get.
     
  10. spotface

    spotface Tele-Meister

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    Here's what I do:
    First, walk by the place and check it out. Don't wanna be playing country music in a hooka bar with the Farsi channel on the tv's and a funk band setting up. yup, almost did that...
    Next, walk in without my instrument and do a closer inspection. Some open mics are during happy hour and can be loud. I check the vibe too.
    I'm prepared for the mics to be screwed up, the PA to totally suck and have accepted the fact that nobody within about 5 miles knows how to run a sound board. Monitors will have a totally different mix than the house, if there is a monitor. I just make sure I'm in tune and playing in time and give it my best shot. Be prepared to meet lots of other musicians and have a great time! OK, there are exceptions to the rule, and some open mics have a well run great sounding PA, but in my experience that is exception not the rule. Most places here give 15 minutes, and setting up eats that time up quickly. When my buddy accompanies me with his Strat (trying to get him to go Tele...) we get there before the open mic starts and get the amp plugged in and ready to go. Oh yeah, have fun!
     
  11. 68thinline

    68thinline Tele-Afflicted

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    As long as it's not a "blues" jam, pedals should be welcome. Just don't expect them to provide the best-quality amps since they're likely to be abused.

    As others have said, go check it out and talk to the guy that is hosting. If it's a singer/songwriter kind of thing you may not make many friends with your fuzzbox and amp cranked up to 11.:)
     
  12. Old Cane

    Old Cane Poster Extraordinaire

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    You guys really take the sport out of things. It's a place to hang out, for Pete's sake. Just hang out and play. You should feel like you're among friends. If you do it right, you are.
     
  13. Big John Studd

    Big John Studd Friend of Leo's

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    Been awhile since I've done an open mic, but yeah, just bring your guitar. Maybe a cable too just in case. You'll just play through and/or sing through whatever they have set up and ready to go.
     
  14. Paul in Colorado

    Paul in Colorado Telefied Ad Free Member

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    I played one last night where my bass player helps out the host. I'm glad I have a Baggs Para-Acoustic preamp. I can at least get my guitar EQ'ed somewhere close to usable. I had them set the board EQ flat and did a couple of quick adjustments. It was just loud enough in the monitor and our drummer said she could actually hear me for once. In spite of feeling a little nervous, it went well and I played in the final jam. I felt like I made some new friends so it was a good night.
     
  15. LiveAtLeeds

    LiveAtLeeds Tele-Meister

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    I guess you guys missed the post, I did go, and posted about it above. Thanks for the advice though, it was a very friendly atmosphere and a lot of fun. Also, I know their amps probably get beaten pretty badly during these things, but I do wish they would have a Blues Junior or something similar. Ah well, I guess it isn't always about Tone. Wait, what am I saying? Of course it is :p
     
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