Artistic Vibes’ weekly event breaks traditional open-mic mold

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Brothers Nick (left) and Andrew Gaines (middle) of A.B.O.B. Music perform the track “Afterparty” at Artistic Vibes’ open mic on Sept. 29 with fellow Miami artist Sam Daze. The track is a preview from their upcoming EP “The Party Pack.” // Photo Courtesy Willa Simone.

If you’ve ever been to an open-mic event, there’s a good chance you know just how bad they can be: a barely functioning microphone propped up near a stool in front of a handful of uninterested audience members. You know, the works.

Fortunately, Artistic Vibes (AV), a hidden gem of a performing-arts venues tucked away right here in Miami, is elevating the idea of the open mic to the next level. The venue features acts with real talent, spanning from stand-up comedians to musicians of all genres, in its amazing space that certainly delivers on the “vibes” portion of its name.

The deal is simple: show up on any Thursday night and either pay $5 to watch or muster up the courage to perform for free admission. After the night’s 15-or-so acts have been sound-checked and are ready to go, the crowd shuffles in and finds their seats. There’s even the option to camp out on one of the big, soft couches in the middle of the room between the heavily scrawled-on blackboards that serve as walls.

From the moment the show kicks off, it becomes clear that an incredible amount of thought and passion has gone into making the event as fun as it possibly can be for the performers and audience alike. Host and co-owner Quills Rodríguez is quick to get the audience laughing with her hilarious opening stand-up routine, and the comics who follow are eager to keep the energy going strong. With both seasoned veterans and first-timers, the comedy is diverse enough to appeal to everybody. Little, worked-in surprises range from impromptu, dancing stage entrances similar to those of daytime talk show host Ellen DeGeneres, to guest sets from pro-wrestlers practicing for their WWE auditions. There’s never a dull moment.

The selection of musical performances is just as varied as the comedy, if not more. Quick sets of one to two songs per act keep things fresh and moving smoothly, as singer-songwriters, rappers and comedy-music hybrid acts slinging ukuleles all take their turns on the same stage, where the giant initials “AV” hang behind them in lights. Unlike typical open mics, the crowd at Artistic Vibes is enthusiastic, clapping along to the beat and cheering at the end of every song.

“[Performing] was definitely enlightening,” said Andrew Gaines, a member of the Miami hip-hop duo A.B.O.B. Music. “It made me think about how to operate in a different type of scene.”

As the night nears its end, performers enjoy the benefits of what host Quills describes as one of AV’s core philosophies. “Our goal is to make sure that there are just as many people in the audience for the last act as there were for the first act,” Quills said. With free drink giveaways running throughout the evening, the crowd is more than happy to oblige.

By the time the last performer is complete and the Artistic Vibes staff belts Semisonic’s “Closing Time,” there’s an unmistakable air of a night well-spent. For any comedian, musician or poet hoping to break into the Miami performance scene or any entertainment-lover looking for something to do on a Thursday night, Artistic Vibes’ weekly open mic is the place to be. For more information on the open mic and the other events AV hosts, check out www.artistic-vibes.com.

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