Terror at the Open-Mic

by Nick Smith in


This evening I had a very startling experience.  I have to tell you this story while I am still feeling the effects. This evening I wound up playing at an open-mic in Schenectady I found out about through my Sunday afternoon pickup Frisbee game.  It was a much bigger affair than the other open-mic I played at in Troy.  The musicians were incredibly talented.  The MC was minimalist and kept things moving.  It's like I had gotten called up from Single A to Double A in the open-mic league.   These guys had some polished talent so I couldn't just play it safe and draw an easy walk.

I decided to play "White Blood Cells" and the Mountain Goats' "Up The Wolves."  White Blood Cells mainly because it's the only song I've been involved in writing that I can reliably remember in its entirety.  I debuted "Up The Wolves" because I was looking for something more upbeat and because I REALLY REALLY like it.

I played the shit out of "White Blood Cells," maybe a little more than usual.  I don't know what was getting into me, but I was in power-singing mode.  Which was fortunate because I was playing "Up The Wolves" next.  My singing was riding high from the power sections of "White Blood Cells."  My right hand forgot how to strum the song for the majority of the third verse.  So when I hit that forth verse, I came out swinging.  With the frustration from fucking up the strumming and the power I was riding from the song before, I sang that fourth verse so hard it was fucking frightening.  People seemed to enjoy it.

I went to sit down and this wave of terror came crashing into me like really bad news.  I was sitting in my chair and pretty much hugging my guitar case while the guy after me played some cool Delta Blues.  I felt like the song had played, but not in like a spiritual music flowing in my body way.  I felt almost like the song had taken advantage of me and used me for its own evil purposes.  I am still in the verge of shuddering.  I am having a difficult time doing it justice with words.  But it's scary.  I'm almost afraid to play the song again.

I have some other, more general thoughts about me and open-mics, but I am in no place to share them right now.  I need to lay down and read a bit, then go to bed and not have nightmares about "Up The Wolves."

Swashbuckle on your own time, Nick

There's bound to be a ghost at the back of your closet no matter where you live.