by Josh Gross
Like the 44 Club, Terry's State Street Saloon has a serious karaoke reputation in Boise to go with its converted garden-shed exterior and slightly toxic air quality. And in some ways, it measures up, though not in as many ways as its cult would have had me believe.
The most important way is that it's loud. This is a welcome change from joints so worried about disturbing the non-participants that they cap the volume down tight enough to make the microphone practically decorative. Moreover, that serious volume comes through a great sounding system with monitors and good quality mics. That's why it has a deep rotation of singers who take their Jewel covers seriously. It is hard to hold a conversation in unless you retreat from the singing area to the bar area, which is dominated by a pool table and all the possible accidental crotch jabs that go with it. But for the karaoke dedicated, conversation isn't really the point, so no real loss.
The real problem with such tremendous volume is that it also cranked up the unbearably corny wacky-morning-radio-DJ banter from the KJ, as well as his super-enthusiastic performance of "When the Bodies Hit the Floor," potentially the trashiest song ever recorded.
The book is bound in nice hardshell three-ring binders and the pages were in good condition. But there were a number of unconsolidated updates, making it a chore to find a specific song or artist. And the songs offered were nothing special, just the standards. I heard Alannah Myles, John Mellencamp (with and without the Cougar) and back-to-back Alanis Morissette songs while waiting for my turn to sing "We Built This City," by Starship—a song the KJ announced as "a wild trip back to the '80s."
And when I did, right next to the screen with the lyrics was on playing FOX News. A faceful of Glenn Beck certainly aids with an angry song, but Starship was about love. As was my next choice, "The Monster Mash," another song the KJ seemed tickled by.
While singing, no one really cared. The tables were isolated from one another and there wasn't a space in front of the stage for dancing or improptu backups. One singer even committed the ultimate sin and took the mic back to her table to sit down. As an experience, Terry's was a bit disappointing.
It can't be denied that Terry's has nice, really well-maintained, professional-grade equipment. But it's put to very average use in a very average setting. This means that ultimately, the decision to go to Terry's rests less on the karaoke than it does on if it's the kind of place you want to hang out in.
And so the quest continues...