Post Karaoke Open Mic Thoughts

Sakura-Con took place this past weekend and I chose to use their karaoke open mic as an actual open mic, in which I would try out material in front of an audience. 

Specifically, my set list from The Anisons of My Youth.

Minus the MC parts.

Mainly, I wanted to be in "full performance regalia" onstage to see how things would come across. A tech preview, if you will. 

Now I didn't get to do all the songs from my show, but I did enough songs to get a feel for audience engagement.

Here's what I found.

The "classic" songs went over well. 

I started with "Getter Robo" and that seemed to perk up the crowd, small as they were at that time of the morning.

After "Uchuu Senkan Yamato," an audience member yelled out "Encore!"

To which I replied: "I'll be back for one."

Next came "Runner" and I got some "arm swaying" from the crowd.

Then came the "power ballad"--"Ai Oboete Imasu ka." Adding the dialogue from the movie during the long mid-song instrumental went over like gangbusters. When I came off stage, one of the moderators (actually the audience member who called for the encore earlier) said: "That was epic."

A Macross Fan ran up to me as I started back to my seat, shook my hand, and thanked me profusely for singing that song.

"Fly Me To The Moon," the swinging Sinatra version, came next and I vaguely heard some "ooooh"-ing from the crowd.  "The NERV Orchestra!" at the instrumental break got a cheer. The applause at the end of this was punctuated by a couple of cheers.

Next, "Geki! Teikoku Kagekidan," with choice bits of choreo taken from the live shows. Got the audience to join in with some hand-claps. And the monologue at mid-song got some enthusiastic response.

When I came off stage, Encore Moderator said, "Epic, again."

I responded, "And there's the encore you asked for."

"I got two of them," she replied and gave me a thumbs up.

And now, a story...

*   *   *

A few people after I sang, Encore Moderator got up on stage and sang "Country Roads" from Ghibli's Whisper of the Heart. During the instrumental, she talked about her love for Ghibli films.

An idea came to mind but I noticed the morning session of open mic was closing soon and I had to duck out. So while another person took to the stage, I went up to Encore Moderator.

I said to her: "Will you be back here at 5pm from the afternoon sesssion? I have to duck out early now but I'd like to sing to you a song from a Ghibli movie."

She gave a small start in surprise, then said, "Yes, I'll be back here."

I then approached the other open mic moderator and asked how to get near the top of the queue at the afternoon session because I was singing a song for his co-moderator. 

"Put your name in the queue," he said, "and I'll flag it for the afternoon."

I did and handed over the mp3 of the backing track.

Just before 5pm, I got back to the room, grabbed a seat, and got ready. The Open Mic Coordinator recognized me from earlier, waved, and came up to me. "Hi Abner," she said. "We've got you going up second."

I said, "Is Encore Moderator here? I'm going to be singing to her."

Open Mic Coordinator said, "Oh. She went to get a snack."

"Can you put me on when she gets back?"


She went back to prep and I sat back to do some prep myself.

A few minutes later, someone walked up to me and said, "I'm here!"

I looked up. 

Encore Moderator.

"Sweet!" I said. "I'll have them put me on the queue."

She took a seat up front and I went to talk to Open Mic Coordintor.

The session started.

After two singers, they called my name.

I went up on stage, gave a short lead-in to the song.

Then I turned to Encore Moderator and sang "Ue o Muite."

I think she enjoyed it.

Story ends.

*   *   *

As I started "Ue o Muite," a quartet of Japanese girls sitting at the front row gave a squee of recognition and began to clap along in time to the music.


This is exactly the kind of thing I'd hoped to see. 

Now that the room crowd was much larger than the earlier session. the applause and cheer after the song was more pronounced.

And, as expected, the second session had a longer rotation interval. I managed two more songs.

"Enter Enter MISSION" earned hand-claps and chants during the song. This was the only deviation from my original plan of working my show; a friend who is a Girls und Panzer fan was in the audience and I'd promised I'd sing this one.

He got a big kick out of it.

I think the audience did, too.

Panzer Vor!

My last song was "DREAM SOLISTER" and this time, the audience really got into it. A cheer from the crowd when I said: "This one is about the little concert band that could." From the outset came the hand claps in time to the song. I led them in chants at the instrumental, then arm waves during the last verse. 

Honestly, I was trying to channel TRUE's 2016 Anime Japan performance of this song*

At the very least, I think I got the energy level nice and high.

Substantial cheer and applause afterwards.

Three people came up to me after and said they enjoyed it.

*   *   *

Eight songs. 

Technically, seven.

Roughly half the set for the show.

Overall, I think it went well. I'm pleased.

Audience engagement seemed positive, especially with the larger crowd. Hard to tell if it was positive because it was open mic and they're being encouraging or because they're enjoying the performance.

I'm leaning toward a little of both but hoping it's more because I entertained them.

I know for a fact, Encore Moderator and Macross Fan were entertained. Some friends who were in the audience (one of them Girls und Panzer Fan) were also entertained.

For the live, I know I want to check audio. I think there were some inconsistent audio levels and balance, easily fixed during set up. 

Also, turning up the audio on the monitor speaker. 

Staging: I moved within a roughly five foot area when I know I can spread out a little more to increase audience engagement and enhance "visual" variety. 

*   *   *


This can work.

I will bring this to stage. 

And I hope you guys will be able to come watch it.

*TRUE and "DREAM SOLISTER" at Anime Japan 2016.

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