There is a certain hipster cachet to flying in the face of convention, from sporting a hair-metal band t-shirt at a martini bar to taking ballet lessons to lose that last pesky 50 pounds to doing pretty much anything else that contradicts assumptions about one’s age, race, gender, or size.
But there never was and never will be anything socially redeeming about karaoke, which means: Nothing confers coolness upon its practitioners as successfully as karaoke, a.k.a. scary-oke. Too bad our snobby friends can’t enjoy it. I actually feel bad for them. Seriously. Think of all of the silly maneuvering they have to do every day to keep up appearances. Exhibit A: the music snob. Before he can get out of his car and hit the bar, he has to cue his CD player to just the right, cooler-than-cool song, just in case he picks up a crush and has to drive her home – because nothing says “I’m cool” like an obscure indie-rock tune. Exhibit B: the art snob. Even though he desperately wants to watch America’s Next Top Model, he’ll change the channel on purpose, just in case a friend is spying on him via Google-Earth. Such effort for what? To spite himself? BFD. No special talent required there. (Many of you may remember a great Onion story that’s apropos here, “Local Hipster Over-Explaining Why He Was at the Mall.”)
The good news is that once he or she (women aren’t immune to the snob-bug) gets near or summits the big 3-0, he or she may stop caring about what people, especially strangers, think. Some of us haven’t cared for years, which is why we’re unabashed in our love of Japan’s finest export since Atari. Even some of the decidedly cool hangouts in town, like The Cellar, Caves Lounge, and Milo’s, devote a night a week to karaoke. They’re all great, but to do it right, you need a place that reeks of authenticity, a place where the mood is light but not silly and where a majority of the voices are half-decent and singers deadly serious. (No warblers allowed.)
A good authentic spot among several is The Poop Deck, where on a Tuesday evening not long ago a handful of middle-aged gals and their completely uninterested hubbies and boyfriends did a lot of country tunes and some old-school Cher songs, and seldom was heard a discouragin’ word. At one point, a pure-breed cowboy walked in – 10-gallon lid, ropers, and all – but I skedaddled before he sang. (The hour was late and the Ol’ South Pancake House was a-callin’.) But he was definitely way over the big 3-0, and I’m sure his ABBA impersonation was dead-on.
The West-Berry Hop
If you’ve already been – and, apparently, half the city has – you don’t need me to tell you. But if you haven’t, the new Aardvark is killer. A couple of Thursday nights ago, when the TCU-Air Force game was on the tube, the West Berry joint was packed. I didn’t go in, but I could see the people through the wide open garage doors out front. Most of the folks there – all youngish, all decently attired, all presumably Horny Toads – were fixated on the flat-screens on the walls, where the home team was in a dogfight with the Falcons, who eventually downed the purple people-eaters in overtime.
I would have gone in, but I was on my way to meet a friend a couple of feet away at another recently remodeled West Berry hangout, The Moon. The redesign there is less severe, probably because the room is much smaller. But what owner Chris Maunder has done still warrants a salute. The focus now is on the stage. Once relegated to the front corner, it now has an entire wall to itself and sits parallel to the bar across the way. The place was dead when I walked in, which was fine by me: I got to visit with my pal and didn’t have to yell over loud music.
But before long, folks started piling in. At first, they were all guys, sporting either button-ups or golf shirts (yes, with their collars popped – so juvenile). And then, almost as soon as all the dudes split and as I was on the way out, a bunch of young women came strolling in. (What? No “ladies first”?) Anyway, The Moon hasn’t lost any of its cool, laid-back vibe, and the place is still The Aardvark’s darker, more speakeasy-ish little brother, but would you expect anything less? Evidently, based on the night I was on West Berry, the two clubs complement each other well.
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