Nectar in Fremont is about to bail on their Tuesday karaoke night. I didn't even know they had karaoke. Absolute Karaoke (the best production in town) has been there for less than two months, and Nectar management is already itching to pull the plug because it's been a slow start. Last week Rio, the KJ, sent out an alert on Facebook urging people to spread the word to come out and save the karaoke there. The post said things would begin at 8 p.m., which I was delighted to see, because just last week I wrote how I wished for a place that could start earlier than 9.
"Let's not make matters worse by staging fake rap-battles, you fucking nudnick!"
I arrived at 8:10 as they were working out some kinks in the sound. It had been a while since I'd been to Nectar, and I totally forgot how big that stage is and how they have that sweet balcony floor. There were already a decent amount of people there. I was happy to see D.J. Fehronemo, my all-time favorite KJ, was there to show his support. As I waited to order my first Rainier and tequila, Rio took the stage and started the show with "Lady Marmalade." That's a pretty high-powered number to open with considering the crowd was still getting warmed up, but she has the type of pipes that allow her to sing whatever the hell she wants, whenever. I started to develop some serious butterflies. The way she delivered that number like a pro made that high stage look even more intimidating. Not many karaoke venues have a setup like this. I really needed to deliver something with some pizzazz.
As usual, I had no idea what I wanted to sing. I took a stool next to Fehrone across this narrow mid-bar table below Rio's KJ station, stage right. It was his first time at Nectar and his second time attending a Rio-hosted show. He just saw her the night before at Citrus (which is an awesome spot to sing). I couldn't wait to hear what he had in store.
The only catalog available at our table was organized by song title, so I used this "fly-fishing" search method I've developed over the past few months. It works great when dealing with an overwhelming song selection in a really thick book. Basically, I "cast out" by rapidly opening the binder from one random page to another, quickly skimming the lists until a song catches my eye. The easiest way to search through song titles is to scan the "Artist" column, then refer to the song. After five minutes, I came opened to a page of "F's" and found "Feelin' Stronger Every Day" by Chicago. I wasn't about to do that one. I try to lay off Cetera as much as possible. His voice is way out of my range, but the song did remind me of their other singer with the low voice that sang a bunch of their '70s hits. Then I realized I'd never sung my favorite song from that early Chicago era, "Beginnings." It had just the energy level I was looking for, so I turned it in.
There were a lot of singers on deck as things got rolling around 8:30 (which completely shoots down the notion that nobody wants to sing before 9). We had a guy (white dude in his late 20s) do a fun, unpolished rendition of "Lose Yourself." He handled the number with no problem, but didn't take it seriously like so many clowns I've seen try to perform Eminem.
He was just being a goofball and wound up turning the song into his own thing. The fact he wasn't trying to show off how well he could phrase like Slim Shady was very refreshing to me. In the middle of this guy's number I heard a voice behind me get all fired up saying he wanted to "battle." I thought to myself, "Here we go again." It was another white guy (in his mid-30s) and he got up next and did "Without Me." OK, where do I begin with this guy? First off, karaoke already has a cheesy enough image to shake, let's not make matters worse by staging fake rap-battles, you fucking nudnick! Secondly, it's just bad form to intentionally sing a song from the same artist somebody just sang. Especially if it's your intention to outdo that previous performer. It's just an asshole thing to do. Finally, who gives a shit if you can rap exactly like Eminem? Half the country's ears bleed when they hear the real Marshall Mathers, and the half that does like him would probably want to kick your ass for being such a poser. The only people you might be impressing are the ones you're with, and I'm pretty sure they're feeling the same douche chills about you that everyone else is. Smarten up. You're NOT on a roll.
D.J. Fehronemo was called up a few songs later and sang the best rendition of the Commodores' "Easy" that I've ever heard. I think it's because he's actually a better vocalist than Lionel Richie himself. This is one of my go-to songs and my buddy, Marion, sings it even better than me, but hearing it delivered with true soul makes me understand where it's really at. I've said it about him before and I'll say it again and again--I would pay to watch Fehrone sing.
A few songs before I was called up, a couple Fremont girls I invited via text (who I'd met at Red Door a week earlier, thanks to Curtis Cartier) showed up. They're sisters, and I soon discovered that I had a huge connection with both of them. I'm a sucker for striking facial features, and these girls had that going on in their own delicious ways. Leslie's the older one. She's tan, has long, flowing brown hair, and has some attitude to her. She could be a Kardashian. The younger, fair-skinned sister, Laura, on the other hand, has the sweetest girl-next-door quality about her. She reminds me of an actress from one of those '80s teen movies I had a huge crush on. One problem with Laura is she has a boyfriend who lives on the other side of the Sound. Leslie's lived all over the country, and (I believe) Laura's pretty much lived here in Washington. Leslie recently came back to town, and they moved into a place together a few weeks back. They seem very tight.
There was no more space on the main floor, so we moved up to the loft. It's an awesome view from up there. Rio called me down for my Chicago number, and I delivered one of my most inspired performances ever. I couldn't have picked a better song for that moment. It was upbeat, complex, and right in my wheelhouse. I hit every "whoa whoa, oh-oh, la la" at exactly the right spots. Anyone who's felt that perfect karaoke zone knows it's all about the rush you get from hitting every verse right on time. I looked up at the girls watch me from the second floor and down at Fehrone with his huge smile giving me the thumbs-up, and I thought to myself, this might be my favorite karaoke night ever.
I rejoined the ladies and they gave me props for my performance. I went to order us a round of tequila shots. Laura was the one who went down to help me bring them back up to our table. As we waited at the bar for our order, I asked her how her Valentine's Day was. She didn't give much of an answer. After returning we downed the shots immediately. Leslie chased hers with Chardonnay and Laura was drinking the Vitamin R like me. Leslie broke off from our conversation and started chatting with a guy at the next table. Laura told me Leslie was into him. I felt bummed because I wanted them both to myself and Leslie was the available one, but I took that opportunity to get to know Laura better. We discussed the subjects that I know best: television and classic rock. I loved the fact she was into the show Parenthood (my favorite show right now), and she actually taught me about the band Dr. Hook (& the Medicine Show). I never knew they sang anything other than that "Cover of the Rolling Stone" song. There was a point during the conversation where we were standing face to face within inches of each other. The look in her eyes was so inviting, I just wanted to wrap my arms around her and kiss her right there on the spot--but didn't.
Leslie eventually rejoined us and we moved down to the main floor for more drinks. It was a great night for both singers and meat-sticks. Leslie and I sang a duet of "I Got a Name" by Jim Croce. I did most of the singing. Around midnight, three sloppy drunk knuckleheads got up to do "Afternoon Delight." None of them were able to spit out a single intelligible verse. It was straight gibberish. Then they turned into the Three Stooges and started using the microphones to knock one another on the heads with, which is the biggest karaoke no-no there is. You never mess with the mikes. Rio kept her cool, and once they tackled each other to the ground mid-song, she was able to retrieve the mikes from their hands.
A few performers in a row sang upbeat numbers, and Leslie grabbed me and we started to dance in the middle of the floor in front of the stage. As we were spun around, I looked at her, and it was right there for me. I couldn't control myself anymore. I moved in and we began to make out right there in front of Laura, Fehrone, Rio, Poser Eminem, and everybody else in that packed bar. I wanted to hold out because I honestly liked both of them, and I wanted more of these nights to happen with both of them--and felt if I crossed that line with either it would be over. After we rejoined Laura, I found out she didn't actually witness me and Leslie kissing, but Leslie told her I shoved my tongue down her throat. Laura shrugged it off, but definitely acted different after that. She excused herself, and Leslie told me she was bummed out. I asked her, "Why--she has a boyfriend?" Leslie told me that even though she did, she still liked me. That's when I admitted to Leslie that I liked both of them. When Laura returned, Leslie told her what I had said. Then she excused herself, and I got to tell Laura myself that I totally liked her, but didn't think I had a shot because she was taken. Then I tried to kiss her, but there wasn't enough time to land it because Leslie was seconds behind. We all parted ways after that. They know I was planning on writing all about this night. I hope it doesn't ruin anything.
Tuesday-night karaoke at Nectar is where magic happens. It would be a shame if I couldn't have a night like that again.