Wed Sept 19
at Coffee Messiah (Open Mic)
One-Night Stand has never done an open mic, and I figured that the informal nature of such an event might not lend itself to a very interesting or relevant review. But duty calls, and since Coffee Messiah's Wednesday night open mic was the event I randomly drew last week, I did what had to be done. I went.
That said, Coffee Messiah's open mic was unique and irreverent for a night out in Seattle, and enjoyable for those two reasons. The first musical performer of the night was a guy named Ricky Rebel. (Since this was an open mic, at which no one is a "headliner," I decided it would be appropriate for the column to review the first musical act to step up.)
Apparently Rebel, who was greeted by avid cheering, is already a huge hit with the Coffee Messiah crowd. He played his first song, which he called "Soul Surprising," on mandolin. Of the three tunes Rebel performed, this was the one I liked most, because it was the most creative. Rebel strummed the accordion rapidly, with few chord changes, sing-speaking the lyrics. It made me think of Lou Reed's "Heroin," minus the dynamics--minus real thought and will to execution.
"I fear, I love," Rebel declared. I got the sense that Rebel didn't quite believe in what he was doing. I know he enjoyed playing the song, which I suppose is all that's required at an open mic. But I also sensed that Rebel was feeling emotional, and I was hoping he would transcend the situation--make something happen, you know? But when something did happen, I regretted it.
A lady came up to join Rebel for his second song. I have to admit that I was already annoyed by this lady, because she had been sucking attention from everyone in the room all evening by talking so loudly that she filled the room, strutting around like a boxer. Let's call her "Attention Lady." In fact, when Rebel first began playing, Attention Lady stood in the back of the room and actually played along on her own guitar. I guess that's the thing about her that bugged me the most.
The song the two played together was about Starbucks. "Corporate coffee killed all my friends, corporate coffee, Starbucks sucks, get it out of my fucking mall!" went the lyrics at one point. Attention Lady banged at her guitar, and Rebel was shouting. An audience member to my right screamed, "Staaaaarbuuuucks fuuuuuucking suuuuuuuuucks!" From what I could see, the screaming man had been provoked by nothing.
And that's when I figured Rebel out. He's not a singer, he's a rallymaker. Rebel is a giant at Coffee Messiah, and his performance was accordingly top-notch. Everyone in the room loved him. They got angry at Starbucks when he did, and they laughed along with his third number, which had Rebel lip-synching to a corny country song.
The host of the open mic had thrown little American flags out to all of us at the beginning of the night, telling us in an ironic tone that they were worth more than gold and silver. As I was leaving, Attention Lady was burning one of the little flags, screaming something about how much she just "loooves" America. I despise war, and I will forever be an enemy to blind patriotism. But all I could think as I glanced over at Attention Lady in that sad, sad moment was how fucking spoiled rotten we all seem to be lately.