For the second straight week I found myself in a city where I'd never sung. This time it was Kenmore at MVPub, a shiny new sports bar two blocks south of Kenmore Lanes on Bothell Way. It was Wednesday and I had new karaoke options everywhere that night, but I chose this spot because I liked the name.
I arrived just before 9:30. MVPub's interior is all wood with a series of plasmas that wrap around the entire place. The bar is on its own island, fenced off between the pool table and television area where the stage and KJ station are. I sat one step above in the back of the room and had a good corner angle at the stage.
"Babe" by Styx played overhead, followed by The Jackson 5's "Never Can Say Goodbye" just before the KJ started the show. There were two guys sitting up near me, two guys alone at the bar, and two sets of couples and a lady sitting solo at the tables in front of the stage to start out. The majority of the crowd was in their fortie and they all looked like super karaoke geeks. Everyone had a book in front of them, some brought their own discs, and others had stacks of their saved song slips. Only the real pros do that.
The KJ announced the first performer, Monty, and he sang, Ray Charles' "Georgia." Rows of the lyrics in huge letters scrolled down the wall behind him as he closed his eyes, clutched the mic stand, and gave it everything he had. He was followed by a woman named Dana who delivered a sweet country sounding interpretation of "Breakeven" by The Script.
Later in the rotation, a man named Jimbo broke out some mid-80s Foreigner: "That Was Yesterday." He went for it, but strained the whole way through. It was a valiant effort, all things considered, as any number that involves Lou Gramm's vocals is guaranteed suicide for nine-tenths of the population. This big, tough-looking guy named Steve followed with Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Gimme Three Steps" and sang it like a badass. The entire place shook during that number.
Hugh, a guy who couldn't wait to get his sing on, finally did with Billy Joel's "Piano Man." He personalized the lyrics a sent shouts-out to people in the room. He was followed by Dallas, who sang Chris Isaak's, "Wicked Game," and Lisa, who completely nailed "Epic" by Faith No More. Ian, the one guy there under 30, sang a solid rendition of Dynamite Hack's cover of NWA's "Boyz 'N tha Hood." This was one of the best opening rotations I'd seen in awhile.
When it came my turn to sing, I delivered with one of my standards, Springsteen's "Prove It All Night." The KJ liked it so much he came up to me to introduce himself afterward. His name was Eric and he told me it was his last night hosting.
MVPub, 6620 NE 181st St, 425-486-9962, KENMORE