North Texas Daily

Breaking in at Banter open mic

Breaking in at Banter open mic

Breaking in at Banter open mic
September 05
09:55 2013

Christina Ulsh / Senior Staff Writer

The walls of the kitchen are avocado. Each square tabletop has a vase with two carnations in it. Neatly made sandwiches, lattes with foam peaking over the top of the mug and bottled and draft beers are available for order. Adding to the warmth of the bistro is the crowd immersed in the performances.

Musicians, comedians and other performers are welcome to share their talents at 8 p.m. every Thursday for Banter Bistro’s open mic night at 219 W. Oak St.

“If there’s a better open mic in DFW, I don’t know about it,” host Matt Grigsby said. “The reason this one is so different from a normal open mic is because of the attentiveness you get from the crowd.”

The audience cheers as a solo guitarist plays his axe from behind his head. When asked by another artist, “What’s cooler than being cool?” the audience calls out “Ice cold!”

Bartender Nathan Norman said he sees many regulars who don’t perform but come every week to watch.

“I do love bartending but my favorite nights are the nights I don’t work. Then I can come up and play open mic,” said Norman, an economics senior.

UNT graduate Alex Christensen said he likes this open mic night particularly because the crowd is there to actually enjoy the music.

“When you go to open mic at a bar, people are there to watch a game or get drunk,” UNT graduate Alex Christensen said. “They’re not there to listen to music.”

The talent varies from new performers to more seasoned musicians.

“It’s got a wide spectrum: there’s people that are not ready to play open mics yet but can still use this as a platform to get ready, and there’s plenty of people who have no business playing for free that still come here and play,” Norman said.

While the stage tonight saw many solo musicians, Grigsby said poets, dancers, and thespians will sometimes sign up. Comedians perform later in the evening, when censorship isn’t as necessary.

“Every night it’s 20 different singers, songwriters and who knows how many comedians,” he said.

Norman said open mic nights at this location are older than Banter itself, when it was still The Brickhouse. Before Grigsby hosted the event, Bone Doggie used to organize it.

“I inherited it from Bone Doggie, Bone Doggie inherited it from someone before him,” Grigsby said.

Banter recommends artists show up early to sign up at 7:45 p.m. The 20 available performance slots quickly fill up.

Feature photo by Harris Buchanan / Contributing photographer 

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