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Open Mic Night 2: Electric Boogaloo

Open Mic Night 2: Electric Boogaloo

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After months of planning, second-guessing, and hyper self-criticism, the moment of truth had come: I would finally be performing again. It's been a fair amount of time, really. Before now the last time I'd performed in any serious capacity was back in college, and even that wasn't solo. This is something I'd been wanting to do for a while, so the fact it was finally happening was disproportionately worrying. It's a weird quirk of mine to be super confident and easygoing in most scenarios, but when it comes time to take something seriously I have a tendency to overthink things. For example, this isn't nearly the first first time I've got up with a guitar and sung songs in a pub. Give me a guitar or a microphone and I'll sing until someone stops me. Tell me I've got three weeks to prepare four songs and I won't eat anything the day before the show because I'm too nervous.

This preoccupation meant I ate five apples over the course of the day, and barely anything else. Consequently, I was starving for the rest of the night, especially after I'd performed and the worrying had ceased. But I'm getting ahead of myself.

I'd practiced the set all day; four songs, twenty minutes. It wasn't going to be so bad, was it? This is what I love doing, and I was so ready to do it. That's why I wanted it to be as good as it could possibly be, so that I knew I'd taken it seriously. Eventually it was time to leave, so I packed up my guitar and left. As soon as I started walking I felt much better about the whole thing, because I was actually doing something now. Waiting is always the hardest part of any performance in my opinion, since there's nothing to do and nothing to distract you from over-analysing how you think you'll do, so when I turned up to find two people setting things up, and bright friendly faces, any worries disappeared and I was able to genuinely enjoy myself for the rest of the evening.

It might have helped that there were only a handful of people there, most of whom were performing as well. As a result, when it was my turn to stand up at the mic, everyone was really supportive, contributing to the relaxed, positive atmosphere of the night. It was impossible for me to appear too professional anyway, owed to the fact that I was using my old classical guitar with no amp or strap, compared to everyone else (the night was almost exclusively guitars) who did. I had to use a stool to support the guitar on my knee, and an extra microphone to make it louder. It was Poverty Hour at the Railway Arms.

All in all, I thought it went pretty well. I had fun, at least, even if I messed up a couple of times. In one case I was halfway through a song and completely blanked on what I was doing for around three seconds. Thankfully, as long as you take it in good spirits the audience won't react with cringes and muttered 'oh no''s. After I finished I asked if anyone spotted the error, which got a laugh, and then they asked if I wanted to sing another! Everything came up Milhouse in the end.

And with that, I ended the night. I'm now on good terms with the owners (who are looking for regulars to sing every week or so) and I've got another gig on Wednesday so I can continue to practice before Scotland. Here's hoping that goes well too!

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