In a city saturated with culture, where do the young guns go? The comedians who want to see if they’ re actually funny, or the songwriters fresh from signing in the shower? Reykjavík is refined, a victim of its own success, and that’ s a huge problem when it comes to honing talent. Open Mic Night at Húrra looks to bridge the gap by providing a safe haven for new performers who want to test the waters. The grassroots need gigs.
Talking to organiser Owen Fiene, I begin to feel that the name is a little misleading. Open Mic Night implies teenage angst, shitty singing and awkward moments. Sure, that’s part of the charm—but this is something else.
“We’ve had burlesque, comedy, improv, singer-songwriters, acapella, spoken word. You can go on stage, get naked and laugh at the audience if you really want to. Our motto is that anything goes,” says Owen.
Smells like teen cynics
It’s clear to see that Owen is full of gratitude. He believes there’s a deeper cultural issue in the city, that younger people are not given opportunities and the necessary steps to progress. He’s right.
“It was a New Year’s Resolution. I wanted to bring something to the scene and create a platform for performance,” explains Owen. It was one of those rare resolutions to became a reality, and since 2015 performers from across Iceland and indeed the world have made a pilgrimage to perform, including Icelandic burlesque dancer Magga Maack.
“Magga Maack was fucking awesome,” Owen recalls. “She was donned in chains and began to start swinging. Light bulbs shattered on the stage and it rained glass.”
I asked Owen what advice he’d give to those crippled with self-doubt, questioning if they have the balls (or ovaries) to get on stage. “If you’ve got something good, the crowd will recognise it,” he responds. “If you don’t, it’s no skin off your nose as this is pretty chill. It’s an extremely safe space, and if you don’t want to go through with it, you don’t have to.”
And what about spectators? Open Mic Night takes place on the first Tuesday of every month (not long after you’ve received your paycheck and pissed it all away on hard liquor). If you’re feeling fragile, it’s a non-invasive way to spend an evening, but expect to be surprised.
“Once I was contacted by these two girls from Canada,” says Owen. “They asked if they could rap on stage, and that their lyrics were a little offensive. They turned up looking pretty mousey, but then started rapping with this man-eating, ‘my pussy is hungry’ Third Wave feminist kind of vibe. It was amazing, the audience loved it.”
If you turn up, something will go down.
Feeling inspired? Email Owen at firstname.lastname@example.org or check out the talent from 9pm to 1am the first Tuesday of the month. For more information, visit the Facebook page @openmichurra.