July 23, 2008

Rock Star Karaoke

After band rehearsal at Michiko Rehearsal Studios, located just off Times Square (what better location for a rehearsal space than right above an Irish pub in the middle of the mayhem that is midtown NYC), I took the 3 train back to Brooklyn. Armed with my acoustic guitar, I figured it was a safe bet I'd have the two-seater to myself for the entire ride. Not so fast, Seabass.

At 14th Street, a drummer strolled onto the train with his cymbal bag and snare. He was actively looking for an empty seat so I made some room and settled in for a crowded ride back to BK. I'd been finger-drumming on my case and as this dude settled in next to me, it seemed like he was joining along; I couldn't tell if he was drumming with me or if he was just drumming the way drummers incessantly do. Regardless, I found it hilarious that the only two musicians in the train car were seated next to one another. I didn't make any attempt at small chatter...until i pulled out a pack of gum and offered him a piece.

Next thing I know, we're having a friendly musician meet-and-greet. After we established where our evenings were headed - I was on my way back home and he was headed out to a gig at Hank's Saloon - I asked him who he was playing with. When he responded, "Rock Star Karaoke," I did a triple take. "Did you guys play Bonnaroo?"

Sure enough, Rock Star Karaoke is the band we saw Friday night at Karaoke Bay at Bonnaroo. My wife, sister-in-law and buddy Marcus had just bought tickets for our annual ride on the Ferris Wheel. As we stood in line, it slowly dawned on us that a) our tickets to the ride were good at any point during the weekend and b) these guy rocked. As we jumped out of line and entered the tent, we were rewarded with the opening chords to Creep. To this day, I can still remember who first introduced me to that tune. Thank you, Beavis and Butthead.

The girl who'd chosen this Radiohead was a short blonde who was sporting sunglasses (at roughly 1am) and had an "I'm too wasted to really care" attitude. At first, it seemed like this was going to be just another wonderful song ruined by karaoke.

Then the chorus landed.

See, the Rock Star Karaoke band were intentionally playing the verse at par with the girl singing the song. Their lackadaisical attitude initially made me think they weren't very good. But all of a sudden, they got real serious, laying into the chorus with a frenzy that brought everyone in ear shot to their feet. MB, Becca, Marcus and I rushed into the middle of the "dance floor" (a series of not-so-well-supported plywood boards) and started screaming our faces off. "Sheeeeeeee's runnin' out a-gaaaaain!" Intensity in tent cities.

After considering taking the stage ourselves, we quickly realized we'd caught a peak moment and there wasn't much chance we were going to be able to top it. Instead, we decided to head back to the Ferris Wheel. Marcus and I grabbed some simosas for the ride while the girls waited in line. As we were heading out of the tent , the band took a moment to introduce themselves, mentioning they were from the NYC area. Never in a million years did I think I would run into one of their band members a little over a month later.

Turns out this may not have been the first time we've seen this band. In addition to a regular Wednesday night slot at Hank's Saloon in Brooklyn, you can also catch these guys on Saturday night at Lucky Cheng's in the LES. If you prefer biker-bars, I recommend the former but if drag queens and cocktails with names like "Flaming Pussy" are more your speed, try the latter. Either way, do yourself a favor and check these guys out. I usually hate the idea of karaoke but when you've got an awesome live band backing you, how can you go wrong?

No comments: