By Aaron Semer
I moved to Seattle 13 years ago, when I was 21. As a young musician who didn’t know anyone in town, there were few options to break into the music scene, and I chose the dreaded open mic circuit.
Each open mic was like running the gauntlet of failed dreams; always a mixture of genuine talent and delusional sadness, and sometimes you couldn’t tell where one ended and the other began. It was disheartening to a young hopeful musician, though I did meet some good people doing it, which was really my goal.
I remember a particular night quite well. It was an open mic at Conor Byrne’s in Ballard. On this particular night, they offered a backline of downtrodden amps and drums so they could actually accommodate full bands rather than merely solo performers.
It was like a parade of failure. Scraggly-haired butt rockers flubbing notes on pointy metal guitars. Cowboy hat wearing honkytonkers yodeling like cats in heat. Women in acid-washed jeans and acid-washed hair attempting sexy hip moves and hair whips while they sang. All of them significantly older than me. All of them, at the very least, borderline alcoholics. And all of them having the times of their lives.
What at first I viewed only as tragic, I came to love as the night progressed. I realized that for many of these people, this might have been the best damn thing they had going for them. This open mic afforded them a way to relive their glory (or maybe not-so-glory) days. Maybe some of them still thought they were going to “make it.” I don’t know. What I do know is that they needed this.
I began to envision myself in 20 to 30 years doing the same thing, and I decided that wasn’t so bad, because what really mattered is that they were still doing something they loved. Those performers became a sort-of tragic hero for me that night. The kind you always rooted for, knowing they were never going to make it, but you didn’t root for success. You rooted for their love of the game.
And that’s the same reason I love Anvil.
Anvil play Seattle’s El Corazon tonight with Vultures 2012, Skelator, Motorthrone, and Dominus Sabbata.