Karaoke Korrespondent Makes It '80s Night at Sluggers Bar & Grill in Kirkland"/>
Last Sunday I met up for my friend Steven's 29th birthday at Sluggers Bar & Grill in Kingsgate (12506 N.E. 144th St.). As I worked my way north through Kirkland trying to find the place, I realized I almost never karaoke on Sundays (this is only my third column about a Sunday-night spot). I have nothing against the night, but I sing so much karaoke most Fridays and every Saturday that by the time Sunday rolls around, I've pretty much gotten it out of my system (until Monday). If not for a big Friday that left me completely incapacitated through Saturday night, I probably would have bagged it--but I'm glad I didn't.
That's KK in the middle.
Whenever I know I'm going to sing somewhere on the Eastside, I like to give a heads-up to my work friends who live in the area. Since it was Sunday I wasn't expecting anyone to show, but I was happy to be greeted by my friends Juan and Priya when I got there. It was a cool union of my work life and karaoke life that night. Steven was the first in his party to get there. Our buddy Pat had the KJ duties. I bought Steve a beer and we chatted about the place for a bit. He said Sundays there are dead, so it's usually him and the KJ trading off songs all night. Sluggers is your standard suburban shopping-complex sports bar. It's not too much to look at from the outside, but inside it's clean, and they have beers, booze, pool, darts, Big Buck Hunter, and lots of TVs.
I joined my friends at their table as Pat opened the night with "Superstitious." Steven's friends finally arrived, and they took the table in front of ours. Since next to nobody was there, I decided to have some fun and sing nothing but '80s R&B. Juan is around my age, so I figured he'd appreciate me resurrecting some hits from our youth. As I awaited my turn, another colleague, Bryan, showed up. It was pretty random to see him, but I was happy he was there. I knew Priya wasn't going to jump in the rotation and I was pretty sure Bryan was only there to watch as well, so I wanted to make them as comfortable as possible and show them I was in no way going to try to get them to sing.
Steven's first number was "Whatever It Is" by the Zac Brown Band. It was the first time I'd ever seen him do that one, and it was pretty good. He was followed by a guy named Andrew who sang "Here Comes the Sun." I was called up next and sang "If It Isn't Love" by New Edition. The performance was OK in the sense that I didn't half-ass it and Juan did get a kick out of it, but it was cheez. I enjoyed it for like two seconds, but after that I was ready for it to be done.
Juan delivered a smooth performance of "Hot Blooded" for his first offering. It's a number he'd been wanting to sing since the last time we were at Palmer's, but that night he was beyond shit-faced and had to be taken home before he was called up. He's originally from Southern California. I don't know how much karaoke he did down there, but he seems to have taken to it pretty good up here.
The rotation stayed at around nine singers the whole night. I felt much better about my second attempt at the '80s, "Casanova" by Levert. I never thought I could ever pull off Gerald Levert's voice, but I was right in there. Juan followed me with "Poison" by Bell Biv Devoe. It was a bit of a suicide for him, since Priya had me turn it in without asking him. He knew the song well but got tripped up a couple times. It moves kind of fast. Those two performances set the theme for that first hour. A few others started jumping in with their own '80s favorites. Pat sang a very sadistic rendition of Bow Wow's "I Want Candy" and Steve did a little "Safety Dance."
The third round brought our first female performers and the best singer of the night. Her name was Rachelle, and she was with Steven's party. She made witty cracks onstage and picked songs perfect for her range. Her first number was one of my all-time favorites, "Head to Toe" by Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam. This other gal, Katie, was there with her parents. She and her mom sang a bunch of times. I remember her mom do a couple Green Day cuts, and Katie's best number was "Rehab."
My last attempt at the '80s, "We Don't Have to Take Our Clothes Off" by Jermaine Stewart, was completely horrible. When Juan followed with a superb rendition of "Take It Easy," I no longer felt like screwing around. A couple other singers fell into their groove and all of a sudden my competitive juices started flowing, but before we knew it, it was 10 and my work friends had to go. Juan and I treated Priya to a double shot of Prince before they left. I sang "Little Red Corvette" and Juan did "Raspberry Beret." Juan was on, but I still had to work out my kinks. I could have called it a night as they were leaving, but decided to take a shot of Commemorativo instead. A late happy hour had just started, and all booze (except Patron) was discounted to $5.50.
I moved to Steven's table and wound up hanging out until midnight. The rotation got even shorter and I just couldn't leave. Rachelle got better and better with every performance. Her "Honky Cat" was awesome, but she totally knocked it out of the park with one of the best renditions of Prince's "Kiss" I'd ever heard. The birthday boy and Pat did a duet of Glee's version of the Heart classic, "Alone." Pat was in a kooky mood that night. I finally made it happen with "Melissa" by the Allman Brothers. Rachelle was very impressed by it. She said it was the perfect song for my voice. Coming from her, it was a great compliment.