The Open Mic

By Merlijn Veltman


Humanity has always had a fondness of performing on stage, whether it was a musical performance, theatre, or even sports. We like putting ourselves out there, and show the world our talents. The ancient Persians showed their archery skills, the Greeks their theatre and their music in competitions, the Romans their way with words, and slowly but steadily a concept was formed. Instead of having one concert for one artist, multiple artists would perform on one evening. Just like that, the concept of the Open Mic was born. Over the years the concept found its way to mainland Europe, crossing the vineyards of France, the cliffs of England, the forests of Germany, to eventually reach a small harbor town named Middelburg. Fortunately for the concept, Middelburg had all that it needed. A small venue, called the Spot, and willing participants, who mostly derive from one place: UCR.


If you read this history lesson closely, you might think that the Open Mic is a competition of sorts; a way of proving one’s artistic worth in front of others; a method of winning prizes by doing so. However, the Open Mic has three faces: one of liberty, one of confidence and one of beauty.


Instead of competition, the Open Mic exists for anyone willing to perform on stage, without having to prove themselves against others, without the fear of losing. There is no competition within the Open Mic, and the amount of respect that generates between artists and the crowd is enormous. It turns the Open Mic into a place where artists can experiment, from dark poetic verses to untried instrumental music, from singing ‘I want it all’ by Queen to playing organ pieces by Bach on the lute. This shows the face of liberty; every Open Mic is a surprise.


Not only is the Open Mic fun for the audience, it is also a playground for the artists performing. A way of training the level of confidence one portrays on the stage. The audience and fellow artists can then see the growth of a performer, for there is an Open Mic every month, which creates ample opportunity for an increase in confidence. The transformation of a performer who was first not even able to look into the audience while performing into a stage animal clearly reveals the face of confidence.


The face of beauty shows itself in the amount of talent that is portrayed on stage every time there is an Open Mic. New faces reveal their abilities, while old faces show theirs again. But time and time again, the Open Mic exposes the majestic talent that is hidden within the streets of Middelburg.


Now, you might wonder why I speak so highly of the Open Mic. The reason is quite obvious: I am an Open Mic veteran. I have played at a fair share of Open Mic’s, but there is one that I remember most fondly. The first time I ever performed at UCR, with just me, my guitar and two hundred eyes staring at me, was so intense, fascinating, and frankly exhilarating, that I decided right there and then to never ever miss an Open Mic night. To this day, I have held my promise, and I will continue to do so till my time at UCR comes to a conclusion.


Thanks to the cooperation between the Spot and the hardworking Music Society there is an Open Mic every month. If the prospect of an evening filled with entertainment and surprise, cheap beer and joyful, friendly people cannot convince you to come then I do not know what will.



Merlijn Veltman, class of 2016, is an Art History major from Rotterdam, The Netherlands

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