PARIS – The Escargot Underground was one of the coolest, most underground, open mics in Paris over the last couple of years. So I was pretty surprised and upset when I found out last week that it had suddenly decided to change location: After all, although the people who run the open mic are superb, the sound system is great, and the people who take part also tend to be really cool, the actual underground location of the open mic in the basement of a Russian travel agency was the final aspect that made it such a great place to go. So I wondered if any new location could be found to make sure all elements remain.
The new location is above a restaurant, and called Villa Montmartre, located at 4 Rue du Faubourg Montmartre, near the metro Grands Boulevards. There is a huge difference between the ground floor restaurant and the first floor area – with bar – where the open mic now takes place. For the first night, all of the ingredients of the former Escargot Underground were there, and you can now add also a fabulous stage on which to perform. And it felt like the sound system was even better – but maybe that’s just an illusion to do with the stage.
The place was jammed full of musicians and some spectators, and I think even some got attracted from the restaurant to the open mic above. I liked the view out the rear coloured, multi-paned window into a back alley; and I also like the view through the front windows onto the boulevard. But this upper room is sooooo big compared to the previous Escargot Underground in its cubby hole vaulted cave cellar that I fear for the nights when there are only three or four or five people turning up.
So my feeling to start with is that if every Thursday this open mic hosts as many people as it did last night, it could be really cool, and have a different – less underground – feeling than at the previous venue. But if the number of participants and spectators are down, then I fear the place is going to be far to big to succeed. That, of course, is up to you!
Rediscovering La Ronge!
And another of my own personal highlights in the last week, which I forgot to mention on my previous blog item from last week about the Friday night at the Oasis 244 was a rediscovery of a young band that I wrote about on this blog in January 2011. The band is called La Ronge, and I had met them at the now-defunct Be There open mic on the Ile St. Louis. Having not seen or heard of them since then, suddenly, they showed up at the Oasis. They had played for a while and then broken up, and now La Ronge are back together in a new formation, and testing out their stuff at several open mics at the moment. They were at the Escargot last night, and it sounds promising…. Check out the videos.