I've been running around open mics lately trying find which ones fit my niche, and my schedule, so I thought I'd start doing a review of all the ones I visit. Just to sort of help others in their search for the best open mics to suit their own personal style.
I arrived a little late to Church on the Rocks so everything was in full swing when we walked through the door. First let me start off by saying that The Monkey Wrench is a very cool bar. Located in the middle of the highlands on the corner of Winter and Barret Ave once you step in you get that Highlands vibe. Really cool, I assume local, artwork covers the walls and even the stage. There are two sections to the place, one is the front which is a bit of a restaurant set up this is where the stage is. Because of this the open mic is open to those under the legal drinking age. In the back of the building is the bar and it is a nice large open bar. With the usual bar selections. I can't comment on any of the alcohol because I was the DD for the night. (Also I don't like to drink when I play)
The stage is large and well set up. They have an acoustic for you, (in case you don't happen to have your own guitar), all the gear to hook in your electric or acoustic electric, multiple mics up. Sound is great and the MC and Sound tech for the night were super friendly and helpful. I actually had a sound problem with my guitar during my set and the sound guy actually came up to me afterwards and helped me out with it. Turns out my guitar takes a nine volt battery. Who knew?
The crowd is your usual Highland crowd. If you don't know the Highlands it's a lot of hipsters, hippie-types, spirit of the earth kind of people. The open mic really reflected that kind of attitude. The people watching the show were those who were there to perform. There wasn't a lot of overlap between the open mic and the bar patrons except at the end when the bartenders sang for us. It's a pretty tight knit open mic is really the only bad thing I can say about it. These are all the same people who do this every Sunday night. They're really quite like a church congregation. However, I felt very welcomed into the congregation after my set, before so I wasn't quite sure it would happen. But it's a different mindset than I'm used to. Everyone knew each other so when one person was onstage doing a free form harmonica solo another person jumped on stage grabbed a guitar and followed along. It was extremely impressive. You can just tell this is a tight group of people who frequent this open mic. That may be daunting to a first time open mic performer.
A slightly strange thing was the amount of performers performing acapella. Not in the sense that I'm used to. Just people getting up on stage with a sheet of lyrics and singing their favorite Top 40 song, or aria. This is not something I'm used to and as a voice teacher and a performer I would not recommend it ever at an open mic. Those who did this had a terrible time staying in key and even staying in the song. However, those guilty of this appeared to still be in high school so I'll let it slide for them. Not the bartenders though. I'm not trying to be rude, but they were the final act of the night and I had walk out on them. They could not carry a tune in a bucket. And tried to do a duet in two different keys. My heart cried.
All in all Church on the Rocks is a great location, with a great set up, and some tight knit performers. I plan to go back and hopefully start from the beginning and see how a whole service works in the next few weeks. I wouldn't recommend this place to someone for their first open mic, but once you're confident in your material give this place a go. It's great to play for a crowd this diverse.
And just for funsies HERE is a video of me performing last night at Church on the Rocks.