Saturday, January 29, 2005

The Open Mic

The Foucault presentation was okay. Haven't heard about the grade yet; I'm not planning on an A, but then again, I rarely do.

The open mic was a different story. I went early to get a drink, since my nerves were shot from several cups of coffee earlier that day (that's another story). Out of nowhere, four of my fellow RA's surprised me by showing up, which was very, very cool. Time was, I had a hard time playing in front of friends or family; it was simply easier to play in front of complete strangers.

That's changed, though, and when S, A, C, and J showed up I was honestly thrilled. Two of them were on HR, meaning that they had to handle whatever Orr Hall chaos arose, should it have occurred. As the rule is written, RA's on call carry The Cell Phone and must be within 5 minutes of the hall. Since The Library (the bar, not the place with all the books) is right across the street, the RA's were technically well within the rules.

A drummer set up his kit before the event kicked off, and I volunteered to go first just to get it out of the way. The MC was a woman who clearly didn't know squat about sound systems and was somehow involved with the drummer. As I played, the drums hissed behind me, I couldn't hear my guitar's upper range, and I forgot a line or two. During the second song, "Goodhearted Woman," some yokel started clapping and stomping his feet, and singing along in that really drunk kind of way.

It should be noted here that J is a new addition to the staff. He was an RA last year, went off to basic training in the Army, and returned just in time to take over for K who quit at semester break. J is the ultimate strong-but-silent type. I couldn't really see what was going on out in the crowd, but when the yokel abruptly shut up, I suspected (correctly) that J had something to do with it.

Anyway, I finished the set with "The Sun Keeps Rising," my own (and best, in my opinion) song. The owner of the bar came over and said she really liked my set, and offered to buy me another beer.

The drummer came next, and he was joined by a guitarist. Their set consisted of tight but seriously overwrought metal. They even had a groupie who stood directly in front of the drummer, headbanging along. Whoa.

The other RAs took off shortly after the metal set started, and the open mic essentially alternated between folkies and sets of metal from the same duo. The lowlight of the evening came when the MC joined the drummer and guitarist and covered Cheryl Crow's "Steve McQueen." The music was more or less tight; the singing was, shall we say, a nice effort.

From there, the night kind of got away from me. I remember an employee asking if I wanted to play with him later that night, and we tried to remember how to play "Polly" by Nirvana in the adjacent (and empty, by this point) restaurant. The alcohol prevailed, though, and after the fifth try we gave up. I went back to the bar, where I noticed a bunch of exchange students playing foosball. I knew they were exchange students because exchange students at the University of Wyoming tend to stick out.

"You're German," I said to one of the young women.

"Yes! How did you know?"

"I've heard you talking," I said. "I have a brother in Dusseldorf," I said. That statement is mostly true; he's near Dusseldorf, and he's my stepbrother, but I really didn't feel like trying to communicate those subtleties across a language barrier.

She made a mock frown and dismissive waves with her hands, the way Germans do.

"Dusseldorf, no good," she said.

"Berlin?" I asked. Same frown and dismissive wave.

"Munchen," she said. She promptly turned her attention to the foosball table, where one of the French guys had just scored. Riiiight. Note to self: German exchange students aren't impressed with drunk Americans.

After that I talked to my friend D, a regular at The Library, and then staggered back to the hall. Not a bad night, all told.

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