Despite a temporary revival momentum following films like Inside Llewyn Davis or Oscar-winning Once, acoustic live music pubs have never really made a comeback after going out of fashion around the time Bowie sold the world his space oddities. The romanticized image of the lone singer-songwriter occupying nothing but a stool on a tiny stage in a corner pub filled with smoke may have prevailed, but in the age of electronic dance music, stadium concerts, and Maroon 5, music pubs are not exactly “cool” anymore. And that’s what makes them so amazing: no pretentious hipsters, no artsy show-offs trying desperately to be avant-garde, no freshly-turned eighteen year olds, unsuccessfully trying to have their insecurities cured by a casual hook-up to the plastic beats of yet another insipid pop sensation. Music bars are for those, who still care for handmade music, who like to get lost in a song. And nothing captures the essence of acoustic music quite as much as open mic nights. Ambitious performers play alongside shy first-timers, sharing their songs and stories with a small crowd of fellow musicians and music lovers for nothing but a round of applause and a beer on the house. If you’re a musician, this is the best place to find potential jamming partners and to try out new material that you feel isn’t quite ready for the big stage yet. If you’re just there for the music, every next performer might be an upcoming Jeff Buckley – or just a drunk guy who happens to know three chords. It’s the thrill of uncertainty, the intimate atmosphere, and the unique mix of potential embarrassment and hidden gems, that make open stages the acoustic safe space in a world of industrialized mainstream. Whether it’s your classic singer-songwriter meetup, a jazz jam, or a legit rap battle, Berlin’s open mic nights offer something for every taste – and for every night of the week. Here’s an open mic for every night:
Monday: Barkett Open Mic (Schöneberg)
Cozy neighborhood bar Barkett in Schöneberg’s notorious blue-collar borough Rote Insel (“Red Island”, literally) is just a stone’s throw from where Iggy and Bowie had their den in the early 80s, and besides making great coffee, they also offer a traditional, yet often inspiring open mic every Monday night. Drums and piano are provided and you’re free to bring whatever instrument you can carry, including electronic equipment such as looping stations. The style’s usually singer-songwritery, but technically they’re open to all sorts of genres. As a crowd-pleaser, there’s always a somewhat established feature artist. If you want to perform, you need to get in touch with the hosts via their facebook page at least a week in advance to get on the list. While this might make this very open stage a little less spontaneous than others, it also ensures that the quality of the performances is rather good – so this event is definitely worth a visit.
| Barkett Open Mic, Mondays at 8:30 pm. Barkett, Czeminskistr. 10, Berlin Schöneberg |
Tuesday: The SWAG Jam at Badehaus (Friedrichshain)
The Berlin hip-hop scene is somewhat notorious (obviously), especially since certain rappers have decided that it would be a good idea to team up with organized crime. It’s also very vital though, helping new talents emerge all the time. An important step on the path of many an upcoming rapper: The SWAG Jam, every Tuesday night at Badehaus. Right in the heart of urban playground RAW area, this hip hop open mic consists of an opening set by a feature artist and the hosts, followed by an open mic for whoever dares to show of their skills.
| The SWAG Jam, Tuesdays at 9 pm. Badehaus, Revaler Str. 99 (RAW-Gelände), Berlin Friedrichshain |
Wednesday: Laksmi Acoustic Open Stage (Kreuzberg)
Perhaps the loveliest of them all: Laksmi is a neighborhood bar run by Silke, who was born and raised in this very borough and who turned her art store into a cozy haven for thirsty souls a few years ago. To describe their Wednesday night as an open ”mic” would be wrong – cause there ain’t no mike. Laksmi Acoustic Open Stage is completely unplugged and makes for one of the most intimate musical experiences one can hope for. Host Lucas is a talented performer himself, so his weekly opening set is worth the visit alone. After that, anything can happen: bluesy guitar picking, witty troubadours, thought-provoking spoken word performances, or a young Tom Waits soundalike on the provided piano. If you want to enter the stage, you can sign up spontaneously, and the crowd full of regulars just happens to be the kindest and most welcoming family you’ll find in grumpy Berlin. A wholesome experience.
| Acoustic Open Stage, Wednesdays at 8 pm (sign-up at 7:30 pm). Laksmi, Wrangelstr. 93, Berlin Kreuzberg |
Thursday: Ofen Mic (different venues around Neukölln/Kreuzberg)
Ofen Concerts is a series of live music shows happening at different, but usually small and cozy venues in Berlin. Their Ofen Mic is a Thursday regular and changes location every so often, but mostly in the neighborhoods of Kreuzberg and Neukölln. Since artists have to send in tapes in advance, the hosts get to curate a proper dramaturgy for the night, with selected opening and closing acts. High quality!
| Ofen Mic, Thursdays at 7:30 pm. Different locations, find out here |
Friday: Dodo Open Stage (Kreuzberg)
Just like the adorable, yet extinct bird, Dodo seems like a reminiscence of good things long gone – a memory of a simpler, less pretentious, yet often drunk and wild Berlin. Owners Harald and Rolf have created a place, where anything can happen, anytime, as long as it’s fun, a little crazy, and original. Highlight of the week is Friday night’s Dodo Open Stage, which has gained the pub a little bit of fame among musicians around the world. Why that is? Better find out yourself!
| Dodo Open Stage, Fridays at 8 pm. Dodo, Großbeerenstr. 32, Berlin Kreuzberg |
Saturday: Late Night Jazz Session A-Trane (Charlottenburg)
A-Trane undoubtedly belongs to Europe’s most famous and influential jazz clubs. Herbie Hancock has played here, just like Brad Mehldau or Till Brönner. Saturday night around midnight, when the feature show has ended, Berlin’s finest jazz musicians assemble to jam the night away, making A-Trane’s regular Late Night Jazz Session one of the world’s best jazz jam sessions. There’s not even an admission fee, just the problem of space: a hundred people and the tiny place is, well, jammed.
| Late Night Jazz Session, Saturday night at 0:30 am. A-Trane, Pestalozzistr. 105, Berlin Charlottenburg |
Sunday: Kindl-Stuben Open Mic Sunday (Neukölln)
Tired and hungover, after a week of open mic nights? What you need now, is some proper German cuisine, a feel-good pub in Neukölln and a charming closing to your Weekend. Find all that and more at Kindl-Stuben on Sonnenallee. The food is great, the crowd is friendly and mostly local, and the open stage is traditional and inclusive. Looking for an avant-garde experience? Get out of here! Wanna do like the locals do? Order a cold beer fresh from the tap and make yourself at home!
| Open Mic Sunday, Sundays at 7:30 pm. Kindl-Stuben, Sonnenallee 92, Berlin Neukölln |
Picture: Foto von Shebeko | ID: 183137940 – depositphotos.com
is Berliner by choice and a passionate backpacker himself. As a receptionist he knows the real hostel life; as a blogger he's been writing for Industriepalast Hostel's Berlin blog since 2014.