For me one of the most enjoyable parts of playing music is sharing music with other people. San Francisco has a history of being a city where thoughts and ideas are freely shared. The economic landscape in San Francisco is shifting and as a result we have seen multiple venues shut down, and change face. Despite the drastic shifts that are occurring there is still an eclectic music scene in the bay area where artists of varying genres, ages and ethnicity are sharing their well honed craft with each other.
What do you do after you've practiced for hours at Music City and you have every note ringing and every lyric burning? Today it's easy for established bands to book a show; send em' your Facebook link, and a demo and your in, but if your starting from the very beginning the task of getting a show in front of people can seem daunting. Open Mics are great place to start performing in front of attentive audiences and lucky for you San Francisco has an incredible open mic scene. Here is a list of some of my favorite open mics.
1.) Hotel Utah
This is one of my favorite Monday nights spots. Ya know, cause its Monday and you wanna play. This open Mic is always poppin'. They have a solid sound system, and their host Brendan really cares about what he is doing. Not to mention the entire night, every week, is recorded and posted online for the artists. The full service kitchen turns out great food which also helps make this the perfect social environment for artists and listeners alike. The interior of the bar is unique in that you can sit above the main stage on the small balcony and really have a great place to post up to take it all in. There is also a hand picked featured act every week that guarantees you will see a well developed artist.
Melt is located in the heart of North Beach on the north western corner of Washington Square Park on Colombus Ave. Location alone sets at Melt apart from any other open mic experience you will have in San Francisco. The only requirement for Melt's open mic is that all songs performed are original. There is an upright acoustic piano and small PA and always an attentive audience. Go hungry, as the name Melt only hints at the awesome fondues that are prepared fresh to order, this place is perfect to check out with a small group of friends or go solo and meet some of the awesome locals who make this place shine week after week.
Neck of the woods has been running their open Mic for a few years. Within the past couple of years they completely renovated their upstairs and down stairs stage. Both rooms have an awesome PA system and the size of the downstairs room lends itself to louder artists. With the upgraded sound system its common to see the host of the open mic mixing from the center room on an I pad, which is a major improvement from the days when they had the mixer on the side behind the bar. The bar tenders do a great job tending their fully stocked bar, making everyone feel welcome which keeps everyone in an excellent mood. Many nights they have other events up stairs so the Open Mic gets highlighted with cross/overflow traffic. Not to mention Neck of the Woods is located on Clement street where you can find awesome eats.
4.) Brain Wash Cafe
This is one of the funkiest, open Mic's I've been too. Brain Wash Cafe, is located in an awesome laundry center. They have a full cafe and have a very lounge/ DYI feel. I've seen some awesome original featured artists at this open mic as well. It's definitely worth checking this place out. It's a loose and fun vibe that's perfect for young artists who want to cut their teeth in front of a live audience or a more experienced musician who wants to share their music with a very accepting and artist oriented crowd. This is a great place to scope out out of the box performers and get your laundry done at the same time.