A lot of people think of karaoke as an illegitimate musical endeavor. But that critique doesn't work when applied to Boise's newest karaoke offering at The Red Room. Singers will still be drunkenly taking to the stage to bleat out atonal soft rock covers they pick out of a book, but instead of singing over recorded music, they'll be wielding a printed lyric sheet and backed by a live band.
Yes, a live band. Your dreams of local rock semi-stardom can now be achieved every Thursday night at 9 p.m. with Rockstar Karaoke.
This isn't an original concept. Boise has had live karaoke in years past, and live band karaoke consistently packs venues in cities like Portland, Ore.; Madison, Wis.; Las Vegas and New York. The website livebandkaraoke.org features a semi-complete listing of live band karaoke nights across North America, Europe, Russia and Australia, including many smaller markets.
The Red Room's new house karaoke band, Funk Junkie, was formed last month specifically for the karaoke venture and has already worked out a catalog of nearly 50 songs. They'd like to push that to 200 over the course of a few months and will be taking audience suggestions on what songs to add.
The current offerings include everything from classic rock karaoke standards like Creedence Clearwater to songs by Ani DiFranco and Humpty Hump. But be warned: If you plan on taking the stage, these are not exactly the songs you think you know.
"Yeah, you know those bands that do their versions note for note?" says Chris Cullinan, guitarist for Funk Junkie. "That's not us."
Instead, Funk Junkie's renditions sound more like if your friends got together in the garage to jam out some approximation of how they think those songs ought to go. Singers will still be able to follow along easily enough, but all that rehearsing you did in the shower may have to be tweaked a little.
Red Room staffers have also hinted that at some point in the future they might introduce costumes and a gong.
Welcome to the real world, karaoketeers. May your wails be loud and long and may they deafen many of your friends.
Rockstar Karaoke will start at The Red Room on Thursday, March 3, and continue every Thursday until hopefully forever.