Quirky open mic nights at the Thirsty Hippo and other venues throughout the Pine Belt offer a creative release for aspiring writers and artists, but lack originality and substance.
The Thirsty Hippo has been providing opportunities for local artists to showcase their talents for years. However, open mic nights aren’t always the best occasion to do so. These particular events were created for amateurs to network and practice their performances on a willing audience, but many have given up on the idea of embarrassing themselves on an unfamiliar stage.
When first experiencing an open mic night, the scene is often how one would view a bar at closing hour: empty and filled with drunk wannabes. This is seemingly the case at many open mic nights throughout the Hattiesburg area. Open mic nights seem repetitive, constantly having the same artists seeking approval from the regulars in the crowd.
Although better than a karaoke bar, these ample opportunities to showcase local talent have become lacking and refuse to seek new boundaries when arranging live entertainment. Instead, they feel as though the venue itself has run out of ideas for entertainment and choose to prompt performers to practice their work instead. This never truly ends well, as performers who seek open mic nights to practice typically set themselves up for failure. Because of this, the awkward beginning to the set is welcomed by an even harsher ending: crickets.
While most nights put on by any club are hit or miss, the Thirsty Hippo could very well seek out live performers in the Hattiesburg area instead of continuously planning open mic nights. Whether strictly for music, poetry or comedic relief, many open mic nights lack variety, sampled by the same lineup each time.
While there are benefits to open mic nights, such as testing the waters before an actual performance or even networking to meet like-minds, many opt-out due to the lack of pay or the whole experience of the gig. Depending on how popular an artist is, they seek payment instead of the other way around. In other situations, performers might only seek free publicity in exchange for entertainment.
Artists often have a love-hate relationship with open mic nights. Some performers endure through the event just to get their name out there, even when audiences aren’t receptive. The Thirsty Hippo, however, seems to have an audience that knows what it wants most nights. Performers might personally be more open to showcasing their work if other unique opportunities surface.
If guests seek an open mic night and know what they’re in for, they don’t leave disappointed. If a performer seeks to get a fair payment at the end of a gig, open mic nights won’t be their best bet. The Thirsty Hippo can improve in finding other entertainment opportunities for guests, but if an open mic night is requested, once a month will simply be enough.