It took me until 11pm last Monday to find a place to sing. Originally I had the plan to stay late at the office and catch up on work, then hit this 7-night-a-week spot in Redmond called Palmers East. The problem was I hadn't eaten all day and was massively craving a Dick's Deluxe. Not wanting to hit the bar on an empty stomach, I decided to head back across the lake for my burger and find a different spot. I picked up a NW Karaoke Guide on the way and found a place in Mountlake Terrace called O'Houlie's Pub. The paper said they did karaoke from Thurs-Mon. After Dick's, I made my move north and arrived at the place at ten to find they'd dropped Monday from their karaoke schedule. It was my fault. The guide clearly says to call in advance.
KJR will ride your wild horses, Bono.
It was fine because the night was still young and there were ten different places I could hit within a five mile radius. I thought about driving a couple miles down Aurora to the Drift On Inn in Shoreline where the scene would probably be similar to the Mountlake Terrace Pub, but I decided to take the night in a different direction. I hopped on I-5 south, exited Mercer and hit The Signature in Queen Anne. When I got to Signature and looked inside there was no sign that karaoke was happening so I didn't bother walking in. At this point it was 10:45 and I had to make a call.
The list of k-bars I've been saving to review for special occasions or emergencies is getting shorter and shorter by the week. The Yen Wor Village in West Seattle is one of my few remaining "favorite" spots I still hadn't written about and this was the perfect opportunity. I'd been there three times before but never on a Monday so I was looking forward to see how much mellower it would be. Every other time has been a total party. When I arrived at 11 I could tell it was a light night. The front bar area was full and the back area, where the stage is located, was empty. There were seven people spread over two tables on the floor and three people (including me) at the bar.
Someone was just finishing a U2 song when I arrived and the KJ announced he'd keep the U2 block going with "Beautiful Day." He had kind of a rough time with it (Bono's voice can be a very slippery slope) but he helped give my song search some direction because I had no idea what I was in the mood for. I found a U2 song of my own and turned it in. Then I ordered a shot of Hornitos and a can of Rainier. It's amazing how easily those drinks go down after 11 on a school night.
There was a cute blonde hanging at the bar talking to Wendy. Her name was Shawn and the KJ called her up next. I was hoping he would throw me in to round out the U2 string but it was no big deal. Shawn sang "Everywhere" by Michelle Branch and it was awesome. She had a quality voice and it was perfect for that song.
KJ called me up next and I sang "Who's Gonna Ride Your Wild Horses" by U2. Three of my top five favorite songs from the early 90's are off Achtung Baby and this is one of them. The fact that this was the first time I'd ever seen it in a karaoke book made me realize how long it had been since I'd bothered to look in the U2 section. The mic sounded hollow (not enough echo) as I began singing. It was loud enough but not in the good way. I could hear every time my voice cracked and for some reason I had a hard time staying in tune. I fought through and eventually got a handle on it. One bummer about the karaoke version of this song is that is was created from the radio edit and the best part, "took a drive in the dirty rain...to a place where the wind calls your name...under the trees and river laughing at you and me....hallelujah" is left out. That's like the best part, and I guarantee everyone that's ever requested this song has felt the same let down after realizing it's not in there.
The few singers they had in that night were all pretty good. This older black lady turned in a nice performance of "In Your Eyes" by Peter Gabriel. She was followed by a big dude with tats and a curly black mane that delivered some 80's Kiss, "Crazy Nights." The KJ's name is Guy and he cracked me up because he apologized for his singing after every song he sang. He wasn't bad at all. I actually enjoyed his selections. Nobody ever does "Beginnings" by Chicago and Guy delivered a solid "stand up double" with his. Shawn established herself as the song-for-song best singer of the night. There was a slow spot where she turned in three performances in 25 minutes ("Forever Young," "True Colors," "Total Eclipse of the Heart") and each one outdid the next.
People started getting loose around 12:30 and there was a rush of new singers. During a dude's performance of "Time" by Pink Floyd, this skinny young redhead with glasses and a white & blue West Seattle baseball jersey got up and danced a solo robot in front of the stage for the entire song. She was in a zone with that dance and the fact she was being totally serious made it extra entertaining. Just before I split, one of their main KJ's, Loretta, stopped by to get one in. She is a crowd favorite and absolutely crushed the song "Crazy" by Gnarls Barkley. It was a performance people would pay to see. At that point I realized I made the right call. In a pinch, Yen Wor Village is a guaranteed good time.