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Best Open Mic 

The Shanti

A hirsute fellow clad in an electric-blue tutu leans back against the bar. One of his two sidekicks wears a platinum mullet wig, the other a taupe suit and tie. They're on the board, but we won't know what this act is all about until the end of a set of twelve-string guitar medleys and bland Johnny Cash and Elvis covers. Our tablemate, a Soulard barfly accompanied by his graying pit bull-boxer Lukey-boy, appreciates the standards. He digs the whole open-mic thing. ("They're all great.") Hostess Kimmie V. attracts to this 9 p.m. Tuesday event a regular group of performers who urge their pals to play four or five songs and happily accompany them on tambourine. Ms. V., also known as Kim Vrooman, vocalist for the hippie jam band Earth Sol, isn't one for long-winded introductions. Setting up for the tulle-skirted singer, she instructs a bystander to spread the word out back, it's the guys who do "Anal Play." Turns out Vagrant Sophisticate first performed at this very open mic four years ago and has returned with a new single, "Beat Off in Front of Your Dad." They haven't been here in a while, and the crowd screams with shocked laughter. It's a tough act to follow, but the Shanti regulars are undaunted. In her psychedelic dress and olive-green rain boots, Ellen, a Fiona Apple-style singer and pianist, sweetly challenges Mr. Tutu to a raunch-off. By now most of the bar crowd is gabbing, but our rectally oriented lyricist obligingly moves to a table within three feet of Ellen's keyboard and listens.

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