Last week my high school buddy Will let me know he was in town from Vegas. He's been a fan of this column and wanted to finally witness firsthand the Karaoke Korrespondent experience. Fortunately for him, his visit fell in line with my planned review of Finn MacCool's in the U-District. He's a single guy, and one would be hard pressed to find another spot in town with as large concentration of young, hot, tight-bodied drunk chicks to sing for on a Thursday night.
Throughout the four years I've toured karaoke bars in this region, some of the toughest crowds I've encountered have been on the Ave. A performer really needs to bring the complete package of good vocals and entertaining song selection if they expect to get any type of reaction out of these college kids, especially if you're pushing twice their age like I am. It's not like they boo you, but the indifference stings harder than being rejected anywhere else in town.We met up at 8:30 p.m., an hour before the show started. Will brought along our buddy, Labonite, one of the few Filipinos I know who doesn't sing. The last time I saw either of these guys was in the summer at our 20 year class reunion. I was just one day recovered from that flu that was going around so I planned on taking it semi-easy, but before I knew it I'd downed three Jägers and a Stella within our first 20 minutes there.
Finn's is an old-fashioned Irish pub. There's a long bar to the right as you enter that opens up to big back room. That's where the karaoke stage is set up. We took a table in this elevated seating area in the back corner and had a great view of all the performances all night. It took me awhile to realize the host was my friend Pat Clark from Absolute Karaoke. From our perch I didn't recognize him right away but as soon as he opened with a sound check of AC/DC "Highway to Hell," I knew it was him. I could place those powerful pipes anywhere.
There were no song books available to bring to our table to search through. After years of people stealing or vandalizing the binders there, they finally gave up and now there is one lone catalog organized by artist chained to a table within eyeshot of Pat's KJ station. Despite the fact that the place was packed with over 150 people, it took a while for a rotation to develop. There were about ten big groups in that night and nobody was paying much attention to any of the singers.
Labonite challenged me to "rickroll" everybody so I obliged him by singing "Never Gonna Give You Up." You've got to be really drunk to pull off Rick Astley in any meaningful way, and I couldn't hit any of the high notes. The performance was pretty much as terrible as I figured it would b,e but at that point of the night I was fine with it. Will followed me with an impressive rendition of Sinatra's "Fly Me To The Moon (In Other Words)" and actually got applause from a couple tables.
Things finally picked up by 11:30. The Absolute singer ticker that scrolled at the bottom of all the TVs showed the rotation had risen to over 25 performers, and there were some good ones. These kids knew their classics. This swarthy kid with a beard and an Adidas warm-up brought the house down with "Poison" by Bell Biv Devoe, and this one gal named Andrea turned in a really good performance of "Linger" by the Cranberries.
At midnight, I took my best crack at adoration by singing "Rocket Man," a number I killed with on the Hill a week before, but it did not deliver this time. These UW kids are as fickle as they come.
FINN MACCOOL'S, 4217 University Way NE, 675-0885