Once a month, one of Abbotsford’s finest cafés hosts an open-mic night where local artists with differing levels of experience open themselves up in front of a small crowd of strangers and either sink or swim. At September 23’s open-mic night there was definitely far more swimming than sinking.
The event was scheduled to begin at 7:00 p.m., but the evening began slowly, with the first wave of performers starting to trickle in towards the latter half of the hour. As the clock struck 8:00 p.m., host Saint Soldier warmed up the attendees for the first performer, who goes by the name of Jared, from the band Jared and the Social Worker.
Out of the three songs he performed, a cover of Poison Oak by Bright Eyes was by far the best. It was bone chilling and emotional, and one could feel the pain echoing through his voice and words.
Throughout the night, the live DJ played an excellent variety of songs, ranging from ‘90s hip-hop to ‘00s R&B, from house to EDM, as well as a few indie-rock songs. He did his job well and tied the event together when artists were not performing.
Though the night began serious, there were many lighter performances such as an original song on the ukulele, and an acoustic version of The Weeknd’s Can’t Feel My Face, where the artist sung a slower version of the song that was tied together by his mature and heavy voice.
Besides the music itself, the best part of the performances were when the artists would interact with the crowd. A singer who goes by the name Saveena was a prime example of that. She was a minute into her performance of Stay by Rihanna, and then threw a curveball by saying that “she wasn’t feeling it” as she was off beat. The song began again and she certainly delivered, with her performances of Jar of Hearts by Christina Perri and Hallelujah by Leonard Cohen showcasing her powerful voice and presence.
A case in which an artist sank was a cover of a Pentatonix song Light the Hallways. He had a good voice but he was unprepared and it was clear he needed more practice. However, that is the beauty in open-mic nights. People only gain confidence and experience through performing in front of live audiences, but more importantly, they are a chance for the community to get together and showcase local talent. It is a definite boost for people both different and alike to come together in one place and do what they love: perform.
There were a range of different performances of songs such as a raspy cover of Jeremiah’s Birthday Sex, and an original Hindi song Mahiya, which the artist delivered with a beautiful and confident voice.
Open-mic nights are not just for singers, as there were a few poets who got the crowd going as well. One of them performed satirical takes on tramp stamps and flamenco dancers, which the crowd thought were a delight. Another performed a series of poems detailing the racism against people in their own country, in particular Indians in Canada, and the police shootings of unarmed African Americans in the United States. Her poems were powerful, evocative, and truthful, yet harsh.
SippChai Café’s open-mic Friday was the first open-mic night I have ever experienced, and it is safe to say it will not be my last. If you’re looking for a good time, definitely go to SippChai next month (or any other time really; their selection of teas is to die for) and be a part of the community.