Last Friday a couple buddies and I sang at Mobile Espresso across the street from Bitter Lake on N. 130 St. It was their second night of karaoke. I wasn't really sure what to expect, but I'd already been out celebrating Bryan Adams' 51st birthday with tequilas and rye whiskey at the Red Door earlier that night, so I was set to have a great time no matter what.
KJR had Sade + the Asians by his side.
The host was preparing for the show organizing discs and testing the sound when we arrived at nine. The scene was nothing like the dives I normally hit, but I found the cozy atmosphere to be a nice change of pace. They had nice high ceilings and decorative strands of lights stretched along a long wall covered with rows upon rows of paintings. The entryway wall was all windows and shot back a beautiful reflection of the entire place from the inside. A plasma screen was situated right in the center of the big wall - a perfect spot for all to read the lyrics.
Even though this place is an espresso bar, they provide a good assortment of bottled microbrews. I had an egg salad sandwich with my first Full Sail and it really hit the spot. They had a pretty decent selection but no Bryan Adams for me to sing. My buddy Steve kicked off the night and sang "Walk the Line." I have always loved his voice and it was so great to hear someone sing that song in their own voice and not try to sound exactly like Johnny Cash.
John was the name of the KJ and he followed Steve with a solid "Stand By Me." He used to run the show at the legendary Bush Gardens in the International District a few years back. This place shouldn't have to wait until 9. They'd get a good jump on the other k-bars in the area by starting at 7. The sound, mics, and song selection were all solid, and they have a KJ that brings a following.
We were there until 11:30 and the place maintained a eight singer rotation the entire evening. I found it really interesting that half of the singers there (including me) were Filipino. My friend Riggins said it was like they could sense the place and were just drawn there. They were a bit older than me. There was a couple and another guy that was singing solo. All of them could carry a tune. The lady sang with a decent R&B voice and her best number of the night was Sade's "By Your Side." The other two guys, in true random Filipino fashion, sang nothing but adult contemporary love songs.
I was in the mood to challenge myself that night. My first number, "Against All Odds" by Phil Collins, is way out of my range and also one of my best friend's trademark songs, so I've always stayed away from it, but since it was a small crowd and he wasn't around I decided to give it a shot. Even with the key turned down it was unbelievably hard to hang in with. I caught a bit of a stride toward the end but felt pretty embarrassed about it for the most part. My next performance of Chicago's "Hard Habit to Break" was a little more in-pocket but nothing I'd sing again either. I redeemed myself with "Brown Eyed Girl" at the end but wound up being the worst performer of the night.
My favorite performers of the night were a cute young Asian couple that sang "Lucky" by Jason Mraz. I'd never heard the song before but their rendition really jumped out at me. Their voices blended very nicely together and it was really sweet to watch as they sang to each other. It felt like the scene from Juno where she and Bleeker sang The Moldy Peaches on the stairway as the end of the movie.
This night was the first time seeing my buddy Curtis sing, and he delivered a pretty damn good "Desperado." That is one tough song to sing, and he did it in a really raw style - his voice reminded me of Lou Reed. Steve continued to deliver the goods and got everyone smiling with "Saturday in the Park" and "Sunshine of Your Love." That guy has a great sense of what the people like to hear and has always been one of the best around.
There was a funny moment that came at the end of the night when this cute short-haired brunette who sang a very sexy version of that song "Fever" followed that number with "Me And Mr. Jones (Fuckery)" by Amy Winehouse. Apparently she wasn't aware of some of the explicit lyrics in the song and got completely embarrassed as she had to sing the verses on the screen, especially the line "'side from Sammy you're my best black Jew."