The Velour, a popular music venue in Provo, hosts an Open Mic Night every Wednesday at 8 p.m. to find local musicians and showcase their talent.

Sept. 5th was an especially great evening to discover new music and wander into the eclectic Velour, the starting place of many famous musicians and bands that are taking over international music charts.

Many well-known bands in the music industry including Imagine Dragons, Neon Trees, The Moth & the Flame, began their careers at the Velour, using Open Mic Night to illustrate their talent and diversity among local artists.

Since its opening in 2006, the venue has been hosting Open Mic Night in search of rising talent.

Manager Kaisha Ozuna explained how Open Mic Nights are a great way for young artists to showcase their work and get their name out there. From the musicians that perform, the venue’s management chooses who they want to return for an acoustic show, where artists are given more time to show their work.

She said, “Majority of the bands get their start at Open Mic Night. We look for original content more than covers for the monthly acoustic showcase.”

Artists line up outside the venue, sometimes over an hour in advance, to get their name on the list to perform for the evening. Even if performers find their name on the list, they still have much more to prove if they want to find themselves welcomed back for an acoustic show.

Ozuna said, “covers are great, but if you’re only given eight minutes, you should perform your own work. We’re looking for artists who are diverse and perform originals.”

The rules for Open Mic Night are simple. Musicians are only given a small time slot, eight minutes, to perform. This way, 18 performers will have their time on stage. Artists are prompted to tune their instruments before their turn, so they can use their time wisely and perform the entirety of the two songs of their choice.

Though musicians can perform whatever songs they want, the venue encourages them to perform originals, as the chances of them being invited back to perform an acoustic set are much higher if they’re playing their own pieces.

The wooden stage, where many now-famous musicians have performed, is surrounded by orange velvet curtains, chipping brick walls and a large shag rug. Bright green lights spotlight the artists, while a spinning disco ball lets light dance over the audience.

UVU sophomore and commercial music major, Tyler Teerlink, performed tenth in the night but still held an excited spirit, as he walked onto the stage and plugged in his guitar.

The audience was mesmerized by his performance of an original, untitled song, which he said was, “a song about true love.”

Tyler was familiar with Open Mic Night, as he had performed there many times in the past and even remembers attending the venue in high school and watching bands like The Aces, or the New Electric Sound, get their start.

“I really like the venue,” Teerlink said. “It’s vibe-y.”

Though many artists were performing for the first time, some musicians were regulars, including Bill Webster and Devin Knight, two musicians who performed acoustic songs similar in style to Johnny Cash and Gregory Alan Isakov.

Another regular, Josh Harmon, lead singer of recent Velour battle of the bands winner the Backseat Lovers, performed original songs about intimacy and the loved ones in his life that had the audience on the edge of their seats.

The Backseat Lovers, following the path of bigger artists, began at Open Mic Night with Harmon finding other musicians there to join his band. From Open Mic Night, the Backseat Lovers journeyed to the venue’s battle of the band’s competition, similarly to how Neon Trees or the Aces began their rise to success.

Though the Velour is still a relatively small venue full of creepy and interesting collectibles, its reputation and longstanding effect for musicians is anything but small. Thanks to owner, Corey Fox, and other staff, Open Mic Nights will continue to allow artists the opportunity to become as well-known and influential as once undiscovered local band, Imagine Dragons.

Photography by Johnny Morris

Instagram: @_johnny.morris_