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My brief sweep of the Vancouver open mic circuit

Thursday 12th, January 2017 / 13:59
By Paris Spence-Lang

VANCOUVER — Vancouver: a burgeoning metropolis of under-talented millennials, trying desperately to allay their as-of-yet unsprouted careers as nouveau-mimes until they can break through to that breathtaking borough of famous faces and endless sunsets, Venice Beach. Though I will staunchly deny this statement’s veracity in person, I am one of such vaudeville vampires. And with my latest mixtape drop barely nudging the needle on my SoundCloud plays, I was unsure of how to spread my apparently unlistenable “jams”—until I discovered the open mic. Either I would sweep the scene and catch my big break, or I would give up on my dreams and just become a doctor.

Tuesdays: Cartems Donuterie on Main

I began my training circuit with Cartems Donuterie, where embarrassing yourself in front of strangers is made easier by the awaiting comfort food. But before I could rock the worlds of the nine trepidatious attendees, someone played “Yellow” so I had to leave. Still, I have love for the performers at Cartems—they’re earnest and eager to improve, making this a great place to start out.

Performance length: 15 minutes
Performance quality: A for Effort
Things to note: When did donuts get so expensive?

Wednesdays: The Drive Coffee Bar

After my cop-out at Cartems, I needed an incentive to show the city what it really means to be a singer-songwriter. As a full-service venue, The Drive Coffee Bar just so happens to be home to some of my most encouraging friends, J. Daniels and J. Beam. The best part: their “Vancouver Warmer-Upper” isn’t just a pre-performance vocal exercise, but a beverage with four different kinds of alcohol. Progress!

Performance length: 15 minutes
Performance quality: 3.5/5
Things to note: Don’t perform after three warmer-uppers.

Thursdays: Café Deux Soleils

I thought open mic nights were my ally—until I came to Café Deux Soleils. Turns out I merely adopted the mic—the “deuxers” were born to it, molded by it. Not only is this place packed, you need to show up early to put your name in a hat. I chose to throw up in the bathroom instead, but I imagine if you pull off a tight two-song set here, Def Jam calls and gives you a contract.

Performance length: 10 minutes
Performance quality: 4/5
Things to note: If you’re not chosen, don’t be upset—you’re probably more of a listener anyway.

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