From Motörhead to Mariah, karaoke is for all

January 11, 2010 by  

You might think that the bulk of North America’s tone-deaf musical hopefuls only come out when Canadian Idol begins to host auditions, but you’d be wrong. They fill a number of Metro Vancouver karaoke bars, which range from the dark and dingy to the darker and dingier. The opportunity to grab the mic usually comes at a low price — your embarrassment — but the cheap drinks help with that.

Hoko’s, a karaoke, sushi and sometimes live-music bar, is a quaint little nook on Powell Street that draws a fun, young, alternative crowd (think arts students on a bender). But you can’t come just to sing karaoke, you have to eat or drink something, which isn’t bad considering the $3 pints and sushi that’s all under $10. Despite its draw to university students all over Vancouver, there’s no
student discount.

If your taste in music is a little more Motörhead than Mariah, then you’re probably headed for the Asbalt. Since the closure of the Cobalt on Main on Sept. 30, the Asbalt on East Hastings is where Thursday and Sunday-night Hot-Rod Skaryoke is hosted. Drinks range from $3.50 to $10, but you’re going to want to have several of them to attempt to use that bathroom. Could be pricey, but watching a leather-clad 300-pound man with a bleached mohawk belch out Heart’s “Barracuda” is priceless.

If you live out in the suburbs and an expensive cab ride just isn’t in your budget, here are two places that will suffice.

The Fireside Pub in New Westminster’s Sapperton hosts a karaoke night every Thursday, which is treated on a first-served basis. No cover charge and no obligation to buy drinks or food, but the song selection takes up all of a single, soft-cover binder and there’s no cheesy landscape music video to go along with the words. Bummer.

Beatles Karaoke on Kingsway is a little more traditional than its slosh-fest counterparts for the undiscerning student. The establishment rents private rooms for $25 per hour an up (depending on the size of the room), and they don’t serve booze. Like many private karaoke cabarets, they open at 8 p.m. and close at 2 a.m. with the sole purpose of doing karaoke. So, no food or drinks, but you can bring your own.

Douglas Fairbairn, 32, who frequents Beatles Karaoke, suggests that if you bring your own booze they might turn a blind eye.

As for their song selection? “They have a lot of songs,” said Fairbairn, “but the ‘Man in Black’ is my personal specialty.”

There are separate songbooks for English and Chinese karaoke.

All of these places can provide a cheap night out, but the cheapest of all would be a night in with Rock Band, a few friends, a six-pack and a pizza.karaoke


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