BUSAN, South Korea — When you hear the words Iron Mic, the thought of the ear-biting, face tattoo-sporting, champion ex-boxer Mike Tyson may spring to mind, but the boys who run Seoul's Iron Mic Freestyle Sessions say that your ears are safe with them; in fact, they promise your ears will not be disappointed.
What is Iron Mic? It’s an open mic freestyle session with the backing of a live band, held every second Saturday of the month at Rocky Mountain Tavern (RMT) in Itaewon.
Iron Mic hosts Adam Palmeter and Chad Blue describe it like this: “It’s really just getting together and making things happen, having fun. We try to be as positive as possible and rhyme and freestyle, just use that as an outlet. Anyone is welcome. The main objective is to keep it open and constructive. It's become that and a lot more since the beginning.”
Palmeter continues, “We definitely wanted to have it pretension-free, a place to come up if you wanna spit; if you don’t, you can be an innocent bystander. We’re just trying to keep it real comfortable. It's kind of like a block party; everyone comes and brings something to the table.”
Iron Mic has a freestyle sessions that are open to any emcees, musicians, beatboxers, singers, movers and shakers and really emphasizes, "If you've ever wanted to try to rhyme, sing a hook, or beatbox… Here's the mic."
On the topic the musicians, you can’t mention the Iron Mic event without giving props to the band. Many musicians have graced the stage providing a backdrop to the improvisation: There have been 12-string bass guitars, Peruvian box percussionists, saxophones, trumpets, electric guitars and a revolving door of welcome drummers.
In addition to the open mic cyphers, Iron Mic features several other segments. To mention a few, Beat the Beatbox puts the emcee against the increasing and decreasing tempo of Palmeter's verbal percussion. (Palmeter admits: “I learned how to beatbox in a jimjilbang.”) Gimme Props takes visual suggestions from items audience members hold in the air. Build a Jam takes verbal audience suggestions to build a hook, around which the emcees can improvise their verses.
Recently, the Iron Mic crew turned to using their success to benefit the community. The show on April 7 at Club Genie in Seoul raised over 1.7 million won for Angel House Orphanage, an orphanage outside of Seoul that supports disabled youth and adult orphans. “The community aspect is really strong. I think that’s one of the things that really sticks out about Iron Mic. We have a great opportunity for foreigners to do something very positive in Korea while putting on a show that is really unlike any other in Korea."
Iron Mic will perform a benefit show for the Busan Abandoned Pet Sanctuary this Saturday, May 5, at Vinyl Underground. The entry fee is 5,000 won and 100% of the proceeds will go towards the sanctuary. The hosts also mention that "any Busan emcees, musicians or performers who want to rock with us: this is your invitation."