The Venue: The Crocodile's back bar now has a karaoke night. They call it Liquid Courage Karaoke and it's on Tuesdays from 8 p.m. to midnight (or later) whenever they don't have a band performing on the mainstage. It's been a long time since I've sung at a really happening spot during the week. I arrived at 10 p.m. thinking this would be the typical "ten people there, two people singing" dead weekday night. But when I walked in the place was so packed, I had no place to sit. I had to hang back and wait for a spot at the bar to open up. Once that spot did, I was in heaven.
Nailing it with a "Sledgehammer."
The Set Up: I hardly recognized the place. I've seen a few shows at the Crocodile recently, but the last time I actually hung out in that back bar was years before their renovation. The stage is set up in the immediate corner as you enter, and it opens up to a long narrow room with the bar on the right and luxurious black, high-back half-moon booths on the left. The round padded bar stools swivel and have a comfy back to them as well. The interior is decorated with enormous black and white pictures of rock icons, a grid of multi-shaded stained glass panels behind the bar, and a huge glass retracting door that serves as the backdrop for the stage. There is a monitor in front of the stage for singers to read from--the one TV they have above the bar does not have lyrics patched in yet, but that's coming soon.The Audience: It's the ideal karaoke environment. There were about five big groups hanging out that night and one of them was a constant presence that hovered and danced around the stage. Everyone was cheering each other on. Whenever a good song was picked, people would scream and cheer the moment they recognized it. It gave me butterflies, and I haven't had those butterflies in awhile.
The KJ: DJ K-Dub managed the rotation and his buddy Miguel Rockwell was the host. K-Dub did an awesome job slipping in party songs between performers, and Rockwell had a very suave delivery as he called them to the stage. It just felt cool to be there. For a show that's been going for barely a month, they've already captured a vibe that takes some places years to develop.
The Book: The song catalogs are provided by Good Times Karaoke. The book I searched through was 252 pages long, organized by artist, and was last updated in April of 2010*.
The Performances: There wasn't one bad singer. Everyone brought their A game. This long-haired dude named Jason legitimately nailed G 'n' R's "Paradise City" within the first five minutes I was there. He was followed by a gal that sang Jodeci and a dude that sang Liz Phair, and they both absolutely hit it out of the park. I had to come up with something good. For such a young crowd there weren't too many new songs performed. It was mostly 80's and 90's pop smash hits. I decided to go with "Sledgehammer" by Peter Gabriel. K-Dub took it down a key for me, and I pretty much came as close to sounding exactly like the artist I was trying to sing as I ever have in my life. The crowd rooted me on with every verse and when it was done I received a huge ovation.
This is officially my new favorite venue of the new year and hands down the best place to sing on a Tuesday.
CROCODILE, 2200 Second Ave., 441-4618, BELLTOWN
* K Dub clarifies: "The material in the books is as recent as 2010, but I have lots of music that is much newer and totally up-to-date that isn't in the books. I don't bother updating the books any more than they are because it's too expensive and a total pain in the ass. At my shows, I always mention that there's much more than what's in the books, and that if they are looking for something that isn't in the books to come ask me. Thanks."