I played my first open mic in Seoul this weekend. It was my first one in a big city. The level of performers was definitely higher caliber than any of my previous open mics. But I held my own.
I played three new songs. It was the first time I performed without looking at my music. Although I knew all the words and the chords by heart, I sat up there with my eyes closed, so I wouldn’t get distracted by the audience or my nerves. Closing my eyes helps me concentrate.
I have this saying I tell myself whenever I go to the 목욕탕–
“If I can’t see them, they can’t see me.”
When you go to the sauna, you have to strip down completely naked and walk around the locker room into the bath area. When I first started going I was awkward about getting naked. But right before I would go in I would have to take my glasses off. Without my glasses, I’m practically blind. So I just started telling myself, “If I can’t see them, they can’t see me.” It was as if that one sentence was a magic spell, which when recited, made my fear of being naked evaporate.
Sometimes I apply my own advice to other situations. Like playing in front of an audience. If I just close my eyes, I can pretend no one is there in front of me. “If I can’t see them, they can’t see me.” I can focus on the chords and my fingers strumming the notes and the words coming out of my mouth. I can focus on just feeling the music.
I’d been wanting to find an open mic to play at to release some of my songs. I realized that when I write my songs, it’s my way of acknowledging my emotions and sitting with them. But it’s not enough to just acknowledge them by playing them over and over in my house and in my head.
When I sing my songs at an open mic, it’s my way of finally letting them go. I have to take that last step to loosen my grip on them and send them on their way.