Open mic nights are not rare in Baton Rouge, but they don’t usually cater to “weirder stuff,” said Zachary Douglas, who writes poetry and plays in the punk band Wimpsville.
Douglas and his friends write a lot of melancholy, broken-hearted songs. One night, they were talking about starting their own open mic showcase. But theirs would be different because every song would be “pissy and sad.” They thought it would be funny if sadness was actually the theme.
The first “Pissy Sad Sad Nite” was held in late 2016 with 10 or so people in Douglas’ garage. As you can tell from the name, the organizers have a self-deprecating sense of humor.
“A lot of open mics, especially poetry events, take themselves really seriously,” said Douglas, who MCs the monthly music, poetry and performance art gathering. “We try to be tongue-in-cheek about everything.”
Douglas used to perform at every show, but lately he’s been too busy hosting and organizing as attendance has grown to the point where the event is held at 524 Studios at 524 N. Foster Drive. Most of the people who sign up play acoustic music or read poetry, while a few do comedy or performance art. A different band is featured at each show.
One of Douglas’ recent favorite moments was delivered by a guy with a saxophone.
“It was like he was fighting the saxophone,” Douglas said. “He played a song at the end, but at first it was like five minutes of this atonal screeching. That was awesome.”
Last month’s event also featured an onion-cutting station, so attendees could have a “free cry.” But despite the healthy dose of irony and snark, people perform serious work as well, sometimes inspiring genuine tears.
“It’s mainly a showcase of what everyone’s working on at the time,” Douglas said. “It doesn’t have to be a polished, finished product. It works better if it’s a raw, emotional thing and not a song that someone’s played 400 times to other people already.”
The next “Pissy Sad Sad Nite” starts at 8 p.m. Thursday, March 29, at 524 Studios. Douglas usually tries to wrap things up by midnight. Admission is $5. Oh, Hi Mark is the featured band.
If you would like to perform, Douglas recommends signing up fairly early. There are only two rules: It has to be sad, and no ukuleles.
“One person did come and play some sad songs on a ukulele,” he said. “The rules get broken a lot.”
PISSY SAD SAD NITE WITH OH, HI MARK
WHEN: 8 p.m. Thursday
WHERE: 524 Studios, 524 N. Foster Drive, Baton Rouge