(Main Picture: Open Mic © Bragg’s Untrained Eye on Flickr / CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)
Berlin attracts creative types. You can hardly meet more than 3 people with out at least one of them identifying themselves as some kind of artist. This means lots of people looking to showcase their talents to a captive audience. Look no further than Berlin’s open mic scene. We have complied some of the best and quirkiest open mics around the city to get you some stage time, a networking platform to meet other artist, and maybe even a record deal.
Monday night at Arcanoa– Arcanoa may not be on every Berliner’s radar but it is a worth seeing at least once. This wacky bar features an old electric chair as well as a tiny, meandering stream running right through the main bar table. Sign up starts at 8:00 and the show starts shortly there afterword. This open mic features mainly German acts sprinkled with some expat bands as well. Come here to start honing your craft and testing the waters for other, larger open mics.
Tuesday night at Kugelbahn– Kugelbahn brings the American Western frontier to Wedding. On the first floor you’ll find a spacious bar with classic rock posters, longhorn skulls, a torn out ceiling with exposed pipelines, and a comfy patio in the back. Soundtracks will range from psychedelic 60’s rock ala the 13th Floor Elevators to Townes Van Zandt and Hank Williams. Go down below to the bottom floor on Tuesday for the open mic and you’ll find a stage decorated for a Loretta Lynn show and two lines of Kugelbahn (smaller sized bowling lanes) behind the mixing board. You’ll literary think you’re going to see Jeff Bridges re-enacting his bowling alley gig in Crazy Heart. Instead you’ll see some of Berlin’s best emerging and established talent rocking the stage. So grab a Pils, come down, put up your boots and relax.
Thursday night at Kuss Kuss– With a lighting hue reminiscent of grandpa’s living room and a collection of board games rivaling Spielemax, Kuss Kuss is conveniently located near the Hermanstrasse stop on the Ring Bahn. It features an open stage (a bit less structured form of an open mic) every Thursday, typically hosted by one of Berlin’s local staple singer/songwriters. The “stage” is a narrow, raised corner-portion of the creaking wooden floor, festooned with guitars and mandolin (which an artist is free to borrow). A large piano stretches adjacent along, squishing performers closer together. About a meter separates the stage from the wood carved bleachers, making for a pleasantly intimate experience between performers and audience. It’s an informal meet up, so if you want to play, show up about 20-30 minutes before 20:00. You can enjoy vegetarian kuchen and a fassbier beer as you wait/watch.
Friday night at Dodos-Dodo is the sophisticated Herr/Frau’s open mic venue. Acts have to register online beforehand to get a slot, so you’ve got a better chance of seeing a bit more seasoned acts rather than jam secessionists, neophyte Elliot Smiths, or German Rap’s next Bushido. Dodo’s entrance inspires memories of Greenwich Village sub street level bars where Dylan might have begun cutting his teeth. A classy atmosphere awaits below with refined catacombs supported by crimson brick and eye-catching posters floating above comfy corner-booth seats. A slightly raised stage awaits at the back of the bar, and the MC does a great job of mixing the acts to stream the music throughout if the crowd exceeds the size of the stage room.
Sunday night at Madame Claudes– As a former brothel located near Gorlizter park, Madame Claudes exudes East Berlin cool. After entering into the dimly lit main room, take a look at the ceiling. Chair, tables, beer bottles and cigarette packages are all arranged to give the room an Alice in Wonderland like feel. Check out the upside down TV monitor to see when the open mic is starting in the even darker basement. After shuffling down and taking your seats on plastic buckets, the show begins around 9:00ish. Madame Claude’s open mic offers a wide range of acts, never excluding any time of music style. Come to see Berlin’s rap artist, jazz musicians, singer/songwriters, kazoo soloists, and more.