I've recently taken to attending open mic nights to try and get some much needed experience playing in front of an audience. I've currently got two performances under by belt and I realize I have a long way to go before I feel comfortable playing my own songs in front of other people. I play guitar and sing.
I was always raised to believe that you should have your performance nailed down before you get on stage. If you're getting up on stage in front of strangers and performing, you should know your piece forwards, backwards, and inside out to make sure that you give a good performance. It will take a ton of time, but it's worth it to avoid making sloppy mistakes in front of others.
I still firmly believe this is a good way to handle performances. However, I'm wondering if this kind of outlook is useful for weekly Open Mic at a local coffee house. On one hand, the amount of time it takes for me to compose, write, research, play, and cement two interesting songs to my personal satisfaction is close to a month and that means I'm missing about four potentially educational performances. On the other hand, performing without the proper practice might lead to generally sloppy output and a lower bar for quality. On yet another hand, I'm so nervous playing around others that my playing suffers as a result anyway, regardless of the hours of practice.
Should I play far fewer nights and try for cemented pieces, or play more frequently with less practice but get more experience in front of others?