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Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Punk / metal karaoke is dead


It's Monday night, and traditionally, at least from my perspective, the only thing usually worth checking out has been punk/metal karaoke at Arlene's Grocery. I know to anyone outside of town, you're thinking, "that sounds fucking retarded." Well, honestly yes, it is, but it goes above and beyond that and actually achieves the status of retardedly awesome. They had a live band that would play your favorite punk or metal hits, the crowd was huge to the point that you could hardly move, and most of the people who got up were die hards who went every week, and frankly were surprisingly good. Ok, I know that karaoke has the stigma of being the most annoying shit on earth, but the scene there was rabid and it made it a pretty exciting event to go see. Plus, it was free, which is a definite perk in NYC. Anyway, the band was great (they're a bunch of band nerds with no attitudes) and the MC was this dude Owen from the UK who was funny as hell. There is actually a documentary about the scene where supposedly you can see footage of Renee's roommate Heather on stage and see the rest of us in the crowd. I've still never seen it.

So my brother was visiting a couple of weeks ago, and I'm relatively broke, so I was trying to find free stuff for us to do and decided that we should go check out punk metal karaoke. About a year or so ago, apparently some drama went down at Arlene's, and the band and Owen, who someone told me was also Arlene's manager, left and went to the Continental. There is now a new band at Arlene's on Mondays. So our plan was to check out the old band at Continental and then go see what the new scene at Arlene's was like. I assumed that the crowd would follow the old band, since it was hard to imagine it being amusing without them or Owen. And I always respected that they had managed to create a scene around something as unlikely as punk karaoke.

On the way, I jokingly said that if nobody was there at Continental we should get the hell out of there before we got attacked by someone trying to get us to sign up on the list to do a song. Yes, I know I'm a hypocrite for bitching about the decline of the scene even though I've never gotten up to sing, but basically I'm a big pussy and everyone who used to get up was really impressive. I was a watcher. We show up, and alas, the club maybe had 25 people in it, half of which were members of the bands that played before and hadn't hauled their equipment out yet. Plus the beers were frigging expensive and the cocktail waitress told me some anal crap about keeping the aisle clear (even though nobody was even there) because I had angled my chair slightly. Overall, a really lame experience.

So we get the hell out of there just as we see someone coming over to accost us to sign up, and head over to Arlene's to check it out. I was thinking that the crowd must have stayed there after the Arlene-Owen breakup, since no one was at the Continental. We walked into what was essentially a frat party. Granted, it had been a long time since I went to go check it out, but apparently punk/metal karaoke turned into freedom rock karaoke. And believe me, one of the greatest things about NYC is the absence of fratboys. If you avoid a few areas around NYU, you can live a completely frat-free existence. Anyway, there is nothing even remotely pleasurable about watching some future family-owned company heir sing a song by Free, Pearl Jam, or McTallica. And even the band is lame. The MC simply yells the equivalent of "WOOOO! Do you guys like to rock?? If you're ready to rock, let me hear you yell WOOOO!!!" (not even Ric Flair style, which would be cool), and the band reminds me of a bunch of roadies finally having their day. "I am so rocking the fuck out of this Alice in Chains song. I am SO getting laid tonight." And sadly, they were probably right, but Jesus F-ing C, who wants to watch SERIOUS karaoke musicians.

So anyway, the point of this ramble is that the era of punk/metal karaoke is sadly over. I saw on the website for the old band that their Feb. 20th show at the Continental will be their last one there. Hopefully, they will be able to establish themselves better at a different club, but I have a feeling that those days are done. Peeps, tip a 40 for punk/metal karaoke.

3 Comments:

Anonymous dege said...

Sad, indeed.

2:27 PM  
Blogger Great Boudenny said...

Probably time for it to end. I would like to check out hiphop karaoke at Rothko. I bet it's retarded.

11:49 AM  
Anonymous Crack said...

Ahhhh. . . sometimes it is a pleasure. . . to watch a scene in decline. . . although it may have been great. . . everything falls apart. . . and where in the hell. . . is Danny Hall and Rick'r. . . when there is a full on. . . Frat Party. . . Oh, the laughs we had at thier expense. . . on The Strip. . . "Party Naked". . . "Tip of my Penus burns". . . hahahahaha

2:35 AM  

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