On Campus

New stage, new vibe at the Grawood’s open mic

Weekly event at Dalhousie bar has a more acoustic feel since new renovations downsized the stage.

Grawood open mic hosts, Uytae Lee and Claire Attridge, share the stage at the weekly Dalhousie event.
Grawood open mic hosts, Uytae Lee and Claire Attridge, share the stage at the weekly Dalhousie event.   Luke MacDonald

The renovations and rebranding the Grawood received this past summer signal a new beginning for the biweekly Thursday night open mic, hosted by Uytae Lee and Claire Attridge.

While the new vibe of the open mic may not be what it once was, change isn’t always a bad thing. The big stage and loud bands that were a staple of Dalhousie University’s old Grawood always made for a fun night, but the new stage and setup is lending itself to a more acoustic feel every other Thursday.

Lee has been one of the hosts for the past three years. Attridge on the other hand has only been hosting since January of last year. But the change seen in the new Grawood hosting the Open Mic for both is stark.

Gone are the dark, dingy walls that once surrounded the stage. They have been replaced with a more open concept.

It’s a crisp, clean look that could almost be described as an airport bar.

“When I walked in for the first time all the tables were new and the place was completely clean, and for some reason that was a little unsettling to me,” says Lee.

Visually, the most striking difference is the stage.

The old Grawood had a massive elevated stage that the bar was designed around. The new stage is raised only an inch or two above the floor.

“You’re more on the same level as the people in the audience,” says Attridge. “I think it gives people more comfort in terms of performing.”

grawood
Dalhousie’s Grawood campus pub got a new renovation over the summer.   Luke MacDonald

Evelyn Elgie is a fourth year contemporary studies major at the University of King’s College and a regular performer at the Grawood open mic.

“It’s much less intimidating to be on the small stage . . . It’s much easier to get up and much easier to get off.”

But the small stage isn’t just making the idea of playing live less stressful for some people, it’s changing the entire vibe of the open mic.

In the old Grawood, it wouldn’t be uncommon to see a full rock band grace the stage for a set, and full band improvised jams were a regular occurrence.
These days, open mics have taken on a more acoustic feel.

“There were bands at the open mic,” says Lee. “Now it’s more of a café setup.”

This is good news for Elgie.

A self-described indie-folk artist, she finds the lower stage, and acoustic feel of the event lends itself well to the type of performance she is trying to give to the audience.

“In the old Grawood people really wouldn’t like it if I played my slow stuff later in the evening because they wanted the energy to be picking up, they wanted to get their mojo working,” says Elgie.

“I played at 11:45 last week, almost closing . . . but everyone listened and was really engaged.”