The Rapidian

Creston Vibes: Not your average open mic night

Creston Vibes, an open mic night at Creston Brewery, is unlike anything else. Held twice a month, each session follows a different theme. From comedy to heartbreaks and hangovers, the energy controls the session.
A performer at Creston Vibes on October 15, 2018.

A performer at Creston Vibes on October 15, 2018. /Courtesy of Brianne Hubbard-Ross

Tired of the same kinds of open-mic nights? Stuck on an idea of what to share on the mic? Then consider Creston Vibes, a bi-monthly event that's unlike any other open mic series. Creston Vibes: Open Sessions at Creston Brewery allows participants to follow a theme of the show, meaning each show is a different session.

Brianne Hubbard-Ross, founder and director of Creston Vibes, said the inspiration for a different kind of open-mic night came from her own experience. “I go to a lot of open mics, and they can be pretty stagnant,” she said. “I worked at Founders for three years, and I worked at open mic night all the time and it was just the same people, same thing, singing the same songs. I just felt like it was so boring, and I never wanted to participate in an open mic that just had the same people singing the same cover songs. So, it was more about keeping things fresh and also trying to give people inspiration for those that haven’t ever participated in an open mic.”

Thus, Creston Vibes was born. Not only is Creston Vibes different in the way that it uses themes for show, but it’s also on a different night of the week. “It’s kind of hit or miss because it’s on a Sunday, and because people tend to not want to come out on Sunday nights,” Hubbard-Ross said. “But we call it kind of like ‘night church’ or ‘night service’.”

Creston Vibes also differs from other open mic nights in one significant way—its hosts.

“I think the most distinctive thing about our show is that Kyd Kane and I are black female hosts. We’re both also gay. I believe we’re the only black female open mic nights in Grand Rapids, which is hard to believe because there’s several of them. There aren’t a lot of female show hosts, or African American show hosts, and we encompass the whole thing.”

Hubbard-Ross said that they are very inclusive with who they allow to share at Creston Vibes. “We’re not very particular of shunning people or booing people off the stages. We’ve had people just go on stage and introduce themselves. We’ve also had people share stories about coming out. We’ve cultivated this community that feels like coming here and sharing, and that this is a safe place.”

Past themes have included cover sessions, pride, and old journal entries. Themes tend to stay in line with the holidays, such as sessions about heartbreak in February, sessions about hangovers in March, and mother’s and father’s sessions in May and June. Some nights, however, it’s just an open session, meaning you share whatever you want. “It isn’t to say that you can’t do that any show,” Hubbard-Ross explained. “It’s just that we have a theme, and if you’re stuck on what you can possible share, that’s just a guideline.”

If you’re interested in participating in Creston Vibes, but are still nervous, Hubbard-Ross said that there’s no pressure.

“I don’t think anyone needs to be prepared. I’m not even prepared. We just let the energy dictate the way the night is gonna go, and that’s the whole point of switching the theme. Just come up and sing something for the first time or read a letter that you never shared with anyone.”

In terms of advice for first time participants, Hubbard-Ross said the first thing to do is just say your name. “We love to do this call and response thing. We have this mantra of peace and love, so we’ll go up to the mic and we’ll say ‘peace and love’ and the crowd will say ‘love and peace’, and that’s a great way to engage and let them know that they’re in a welcome community. Just come as you are.”

For more information about Creston Vibes, visit their website or Facebook page.

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