Whether we’ve gone to swoon over the regular guitar guy or been dragged to witness a drunken rendition of “Call Me Maybe” (yet again), we’ve all attended an open mic night. These (pretty much always free) public performances can be a pleasant surprise – or a migraine waiting to happen. They encourage the support of local artists and can turn you onto a slew of new sound – or be the deciding factor for why you never purchase coffee from anywhere other than Starbucks again. There are some that are fab for a first date – and some that you love but would never bring your parents or girlfriend to.
Our solution? We conducted the trial and error so you don’t have to. (You’re welcome.) Here are our top open mic picks that will guarantee a good time for any social scenario you’ve got up your sleeve – and no, you don’t have to get up onstage yourself!
If you want to spice up your dive bar date night
Mondays at 8 p.m.
Your local watering hole should be a sacred space to cherish with your buds. If that’s already the Horseshoe Café in Southport, then you are ahead of the game. But if not, this can be your prime spot to bring someone new (and you won’t have to worry about losing custody of your own hangout if things go south). This spot is walking distance from Southport Harbor, which has sunset views that are sure to give you brownie points. And their open mic night is the perfect remedy for a bad case of the Mondays.
Cozy up and make conversation at a table in the back or on the side of the bar opposite the stage space. The performers’ vocals are killer (in a good way), and the crystal clear sound system allows you to hear yourself think (and your date, of course). Whatever you do, I suggest you two brave splitting a signature “Shoe Dog” – a hotdog stuffed with cheddar cheese and bacon. Being able to share a fun, messy meal (or just being kind enough to share bacon with one another in general) is a sign of true love in the making.
335 Pequot Ave, Southport
If you want some “me time”
Tuesdays at 8:45 p.m.
The Smart Phone infested world makes it difficult to do anything solo. However, the talent at the Acoustic Café is sure to make you stop and stare (and sip). This open mic always draws a crowd, and all ages come out to support the local music scene, so you are bound to have someone to chat to while you take everything in – and the Acoustic certainly will provide a lot to take in!
The Acoustic re-opened its doors at the end of August after some renovations – all of which were made with the music lovers in mind. The funky club’s walls, stage area, lighting, and sound system have been beautifully enhanced so that there is not a bad seat in the house for both performers and attendees. Drop by and discover your newest alternative rock obsession – you’ll be saying you knew these artists when!
2926 Fairfield Ave #3, Bridgeport
If you want the out-of-towners/your kids to think you’re cool
Wednesdays at 8 p.m.
Vetas’ espresso beans not only satisfy your caffeine craving, but also that deep nostalgia for the high school days when the music was great and the cares were little. The crowd is on the young side, but this open mic night is for seasoned pros. Local performers showcase original songs and clever takes on covers. Las Vetas’ mic night has a slew of regulars both onstage and in the seats.
“We are trying to get some new people to perform and come watch,” said David Walliman, who runs (and performs in!) the show every week. Whether it’s an original song on guitar, an indie revamp of a Britney Spears number, or even slam poetry, Vetas proves that Fairfield County is filled with talent. The sign-up sheet goes out at 7:30 p.m. (and is usually full within 10 minutes or so), and the kitschy covers and indie originals start promptly at 8 p.m. Vetas does not serve alcohol, and the open mic sign-up sheet asks for no swear words in performances if you want to take the whole family along!
1462 Post Rd, Fairfield
If you want to go out with your crew
Black Duck Café
Thursdays at 9:45 p.m.
With a pleasant waterfront view from the bar and Sea Dog-worthy décor, the Black Duck is a beachy Westport folk favorite. Jeans and a t-shirt will do at this joint, but open mic night attendees have been known to dress to impress. This later open mic is perfect if you plan on making a night of it with a group of friends. Rally around the bar until the music gets going – the Duck provides a full band that even brings the wallflowers on their feet.
Based on their ease with their instruments and friendly antics, you can immediately tell this band is like family – and is determined to get you in on the fun. If the 9:45 p.m. slot is a little late for you, grab the Duck’s killer seafood or a Cheddar stuffed burger (yeah, that’s a thing) and dine at one of the tables while you watch the band set up and get started. Whether you are up on your feet or sipping a beer in your seat, you are bound to be impressed by the musical chops of the Black Duck band and those ballsy enough to join them. Featured on Guy Fieri’s Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, the Black Duck invites you to stay awhile.
605 Riverside Ave, Westport