A long-standing tradition in the South Sound, open mics allow artists to build their name and test original music on an audience. The local open mic scene can deliver, with many stages and amateur stage experiences. Most open mics take little more than signing your name on a slip of paper to enter. Best of all, most local open mics grace all-ages establishments.
Unfortunately, this positive banter about open mics is merely theoretical. The harsh reality of open mics is a majority of them are unprofessional, poorly advertised and draw a particularly indifferent crowd. Having been frequenting open mics for years - both as a listener and performer - the music tends to take a second seat. Onstage, one finds open mics self-refraining - asking the audience to pay attention. It can be equally disconcerting offstage, especially when chatter is drowning a talented musician out.
This week, I'd like to recognize three open mics in Tacoma that go above and beyond - contradicting the negative connotation other establishments have attributed to the open mic scene.
Victory Open Mic at The Antique Sandwich Company
5102 N. Pearl St., Tacoma, 253.752.4069
Hosted every Tuesday, the Victory Open Mic is the most professional open mic in Tacoma. Strictly acoustic, the performers and audience are held to a high level of respect. Victory Music's volunteers strive to ensure that all aspects of their open mics - including Seattle and Bellevue - are conducive to a professional atmosphere. The Antique Sandwich Company offers a wonderful menu of food and beverages. For those who can't make it out on a Tuesday, Victory's Music's Tacoma open mic is broadcasted live on Internet radio station Tacoma.FM. Sign-up for the open mic is from 6 to 6:30 p.m., and music begins at 7. Admission is $3 for adults, $2 for members and $1 children. Performers don't pay!
3518 Sixth Ave., Tacoma, 253.301.2375
If The Antique Sandwich Company wins the "professional" award, then Metronome Coffee's open mic surely wins the "hip" award. Located in the heart of Tacoma's Sixth Avenue, Metronome's open mic is where you will see old Sears/Roebuck guitars and tight corduroy pants. A very dynamic open mic, you will hear a wide variety of music, and will be among an attentive audience of listeners. Hosted every Tuesday from 7 p.m. until closing, Metronome Coffee is a great place to spend your midweek night out and enjoy some great coffee.
Northern Pacific Coffee Company
401 Garfield St. S., Tacoma, 253.537.8338
The Northern Pacific Coffee Company is the quintessential college hangout. Located on Parkland's Garfield Street - one block away from Pacific Lutheran University - this coffee shop hosts an open mic every Wednesday at 8 p.m. Though much more casual than the other open mics I've mentioned, I have seen incredible talent the last six years. The NPCC also has resident musicians throughout the week that perform traditional jazz music for the regulars. And much like the Antique Sandwich Company, the NPCC features a great selection of food and beverage options.
In the topsy-turvy world of open mics, it can be difficult to find ones that hold respect for both the audience and performers. But all three of these have proven to be superlative to the negative stereotype open mics have come to hold. For current and prospective songwriters and performers, I hope these open mic suggestions help you to find a captive audience for your music. And for listeners, all three of these establishments are wonderful, all-age venues where you can find original Tacoma music on a weekly basis.