It seems lots of fun people are rediscovering a love of singing and the lure of performing in public thanks to the popularity of shows like "The Voice," "America's Got Talent," "Glee" and "The X Factor," among others. Singers and spectators in search of a good live performance are finding a substitute for their favorite song-filled television programs at top-quality karaoke shows, Gangnam Style and all. No longer merely an outlet for alcohol-fueled vocal jackassery, karaoke's an up and coming pursuit for many kinds of people and the best-hosted shows have become an experience worth having on both sides of the mic. Several Peninsula spots that already had popular, established shows have been invaded by so many good singers and enthusiastic audiences that you can catch a darn good show many nights of the week.
The DJ--or "KJ" in this case--makes or breaks a great show and the best KJ's earn devoted followings that frequently infuse the lineup with some of the night's best performances. Whether they mix in props, play actual musical instruments or promote epic silliness to crank up everyone's energy, the best song performances are the result of unspoken teamwork between whomever currently holds the mic and an attentive, energetic KJ. They know what they're doing and won't hesitate to help a singer who needs a boost to help make their time in the spotlight the best it can be. When a song misses the mark, novices should know one thing: karaoke is the most polite (even friendliest) participation event you can do. There's a firm audience rule in play at all times: "If you can't say nothin' nice, don't say nothin' at all." They'll just smile, clap and cheer as usual. If you totally nail it, the high fives will be a dead giveaway along with a few gushes of, "That was awesome."
While there are many shows throughout the Peninsula, "DJ Purple" and "Roger Niner" are two of the SF Bay Area's top KJ's, with shows and fans from San Francisco to Palo Alto. What you can expect from each is quite different and you're almost guaranteed to hear several "totally nailed it" and at least one, "OMG" (in a good way) performance per night. Nearly equal in well-loved stature, Roger Niner's enthusiastic hosting antics will make you "open your mind, shake your ass, shuffle your shizzle" and make you "go epic or go home," while DJ Purple uniquely offers awesome live saxophone and harmonica, plus (wait for it) "more cowbell" accompaniment to many songs. The "performance" part of their shows is almost certainly what has caused their many fans to select each as "Best of the Bay" and "Best of SF" winners on several occasions. Fortunately, you can dance and sing with them on the Peninsula as well as in SF.
During DJ Purple's Karaoke Dance Party recently at LV's 19th Hole at Mariner's Point Golf Center (known as a hidden haunt for some of the best singers, LV's remains open Friday nights even after golfing is done for the day) a dozen young-thirties professional types arrived to celebrate a birthday and were early enough to own the mic for the first half hour; and they rocked it. Even as other karaoke enthusiasts arrived, the already dance-filled action picked up as Phil, Agatha (the birthday girl) and Luke each took a turn at the mic. The full dance floor's contagious energy helped inspire the next singer's total nailing of Lady Gaga's "Bad Romance" with DJ Purple's capable background vocals. Their combined performance instigated dancing and cheers plus the stunned admiration of at least one of the birthday partiers. The hoodied blonde who next pumped out DJ Kool's "Let Me Clear My Throat" kept the amazement rolling from there and the theme was set for the rest of the evening. Just another night of karaoke at LV's or many other Peninsula song spots.
Experience this vibe yourself! Catch DJ Purple at LV's 19th Hole at Mariner's Point Golf Center in Foster City Fridays, then Saturdays at San Mateo's The Swingin' Door. Roger Niner hosts Fridays at The Swingin' Door and Saturdays at The Standby in Brisbane. For other shows of note by these KJ's and others like Paul and Linda's "Shining Star Entertainment," or DJ BKR's Krazy Karaoke, please refer to the table listing the more prominent shows from Brisbane to Palo Alto.
Noteworthy Peninsula Karaoke Shows
NightDJ BKR's Krazy Karaoke The Lariat Belmont Friday DJ Desmond The Swingin' Door San Mateo Thursday DJ Purple's Karaoke Dance Party LV's 19th Hole (at Mariners Point Golf Center) Foster City Fridays DJ Purple's Karaoke Dance Party The Swingin' Door San Mateo Saturday DJ Purple's Karaoke Dance Party Rudy's Pub Palo Alto Wednesday Domicile Dave Moon's Sports Pub San Mateo Fri, Sun, Tues Robert Carroll Productions Sodini's Redwood City Thu, Fri, Sat Roger Niner's Karaoke Extravaganza The Swingin' Door San Mateo Friday Roger Niner's Karaoke Extravaganza The Standby Brisbane Saturday Shining Star Entertainment Demarco's 23 Club Brisbane Thursday Shining Star Entertainment Longboard Margarita Bar Pacifica Tuesday
Hints for Karaoke Night Success
- Pick a song you know well and stick to it. But be realistic. Don't expect a country song will bring cheers from a die-hard metal crowd. Gauge the crowd.
- A performance that "puts it out there" is often more important than nailing the song. It's always nice to hear a great singer, but take a risk. The audience sympathizes with the person holding the mic, that's why they're supportive no matter what.
- You came to party, not read a book, so the more songs you're forced to plow through, the longer it takes to find some you like, can sing without going hoarse and really want to sing. It's not about the number of songs a KJ has, but more that the list has been picked for singer success.
- Don't sing "downer" or slow songs. Nobody came to hear an emo show. Seriously.