Thursday, December 18, 2008

The Karaoke Chronicles: The Sixth Night of Russmas

On the way to McClure's Bar and Grill in Tustin, I mused aloud to my girlfriend, "The sixth night of Russmas . . . We're halfway there, baby!" She managed a grin, but I could tell the marathon was getting to her, and honestly I'm feeling the strain, too. Even if we stay at a place for just an hour or two, getting home by or before midnight, this is the week before that other holiday everybody's bustling about, and that has its own traditions to maintain, as well.

Fortunately, McClure's, right down the street from my favorite local comic book shop, has a warm, inviting atmosphere, with those old padded booths I like, where even a fatigued mind can relax and enjoy some karaoke. The K.J. is a no nonsense type, rapidly calling singers to the stage and avoiding the spotlight altogether -- a rare trait in any karaoke jockey. The crowd was a younger sect, too -- the guys a gang of Weezer rejects, the gals a group of watered down Gwen Stefani disciples, all in the best way possible, I assure you. Just south of the Orange Crush (I think that's what they call that assemblage of freeways in OC), this place was the polar opposite of the previous night's TomKat Lounge, the distinction between north and south Orange County.

The song slips boasted three places to list tunes, so if you know what you want to sing, one trip up to the K.J. is all it takes to load up for the night. I haven't seen that in a long time, but the pressure is on -- you know, sometimes the mood changes between songs, and you want to switch things up. On the other hand, once you're in the rotation, you're in, so the format has its advantages. Because of our aforementioned fatigue, I only sang two out of the three songs I listed, with no regrets:

"One Week" -- Barenaked Ladies
"Two Princes" -- Spin Doctors

The Barenaked Ladies and the Dave Matthews Band have vied for the "my favorite contemporary band" position for almost a decade now*, and while "One Week" isn't my favorite of their songs, it's a fast, favorite '90s tune; besides, I think the best BNL song, "What a Good Boy," might put off a crowd . . . that's not to say I wouldn't sing it. Also, Aquaman gets a mention, Superman did in Saturday night's Dave Matthews ditty "Where Are You Going," so . . . if only Martian Manhunter got a plug in a Gin Blossoms song, or something, I might be able to get the whole Justice League out there by the end of Russmas! Ah, but that would be having my birthday cake and eating it, too.

"Two Princes" was a random old radio play favorite I've never sung before, but I don't think I'm Bohemian enough to really pull it off.

The highlight of the night came when someone sang the new Killers song "Human," which everyone I talk to seems to agree is the worst Killers song ever. (According to a coworker, people have recently called KROQ and asked them to stop playing it!) On top of the song's hokey lyrics, the guy sang it terribly, and our grumblings were loud enough to attract the attention of a dude dancing (hence, not human?) nearby. When we shared our disgust with the song, he snidely replied, "Oh, yeah, like that whole 'soul/soldier' song is any better . . ." My friend Stephanie didn't even let him finish. "Shut up! That's the best Killers song!" Soldiers we all became, defending our positions on the matter.

A quick interlude here: Our favorite karaoke venue, Durty Nelly's (coming the Tenth Night of Russmas), boasts a few devoted regulars, one of whom, a Scottish guy, sings the Killers' "All These Things That I've Done" expertly and way enthusiastically. It's become a staple of our Durty Nelly's experience, and why I'd never sing the song there (and hence have opted to sing it twice elsewhere these past few nights!). Also, between the accent and the guy's outed homosexuality, he's a hit with the ladies, mine included. Musing about the tune a few nights ago, my girlfriend summed it up best, explaining that the song has nothing but fond memories attached to it, Nelly's and all. (I particularly liked it at the end of the Pierce Brosnon vehicle The Matador.) So, enter this guy, with the gall to suggest the song barely even has lyrics!

Also, I must insist that this guy looked like Zephram Cochrane as portrayed by James Cromwell in Star Trek: First Contact, weird beanie and all.

Stephanie quickly changed her next song choice to the ditty in question to prove the tune's catchy viability and multi-faceted lyrics. Mission accomplished, and, in her words, the fellow was owned. When he then challenged her to a dance contest, shortly after describing dancing as a vertical expression of a horizontal activity, his true colors were revealed. Talk about moving at warp speed. We left shortly after, the spirit of Russmas still thick in the room, if not also in that guy's pants.

In brief, I would definitely hit up McClure's again. With three nights of karaoke, Tuesday through Thursday, it offers a fun mid-week respite in an inviting atmosphere, even one that inspires rousing debate. The joint lets you be human and, uhm, dancer, whatever that really means.

* For the record, the Monkees are "my favorite band of all time," with Face to Face reserved for "my favorite punk band," and Bryan Adams "my favorite male performer," though his back-up band, with Keith Scott on guitar, is awesome and necessary for old favorite like "Cuts Like a Knife." Just so you know. "My favorite female performer" is still open for suggestions, though Whitney is a strong contender . . .

1 comment:

Kat said...

Oh how i love stephanie! Again... wish I could have been there! Weird how the Killers song "Human" isn't popular over there. Over here it's on all the time and everyone loves it, although this is their home turf and the brits like their pop/dance/punk music... cause that's the only kind of music that exists over here! Journey will forever be in my ipod though available in any country.