There’s no waiting list in this hidden weekend hangout – just instruments lying around, waiting to be played. When I started pounding the drums, a stranger joined in on guitar, then another on bongos, followed by vocals, and even a saxophone player. In a matter of minutes, a full band was merrily jamming away. A dozen people milled around with their drinks. “This place is a platform to develop new sounds,” explained manager Rupert Wong. Messing up is simply part of the process.
Talent level: Don’t worry about being a master of your instrument – it’s all about experimentation.
Instruments provided: Electric guitar, bass guitar, drum kit, bongos, microphone, recorder, and cowbell.
Open mic hours: Fri 8pm-close; Sat 8pm-close.
I butchered the only song I knew on guitar – Hey Jude. But to my amazement, the crowd of about 12 in this Sai Kung steakhouse clapped along and joined me in making up the rest of the lyrics. Owner Anthony Sweet described it best: “Look, this isn’t American Idol, but everyone is certain to have a good time”. It was a lively enough Friday night atmosphere, but apparently it gets better. “Wait till you see Saturday,” Anthony said with a smirk. “We sometimes go till 4am”.
Talent level: If you can carry a tune, you’re set.
Instruments provided: Electric guitar, bass guitar, tambourine, and microphone.
Open mic hours: Sat 9.30pm-close.
It was a packed house of about 30 people, and everyone was like family. Instruments and stage time was shared fluidly without any need for one-upmanship. From Dave Matthews Band to Backstreet Boys, you can let your inhibitions fly and indulge in the guiltiest of musical pleasures. Because the stage is intimately close to the audience, anyone can sing-along and make requests.
Talent level: Knowledge of basic chords is needed to keep up. A large catalogue of pop songs helps.
Instruments provided: Drum kit, electric guitar, bass guitar, keyboard, and microphones.
Open mic hours: Tue 9.30pm-close.
I ordered a drink and asked the bartender how to get on stage. She pointed to a chalkboard already filled with names of not people, but bands. I was lucky enough to join a group lacking a drummer and jumped the queue. “You can keep time right?” asked the guitarist, who wanted to make sure that I wasn’t just goofing around. Several covers in, we were jamming some blues. Each instrumentalist took turns to perform short solos and the 15-strong crowd cheered with praise. For once, I felt like a genuine rock star.
Talent level: You need a set list of songs to perform, or at least the ability to bluff it with an already-formed band.
Instruments Provided: Drum kit and microphones.
Open mic hours: Mon 9.30pm-close.