A Terrible Beauty's Karaoke Blizzard

Chilling (literally) with Hall & Oates and Howard Jones.

The Venue: Tuesday night was my last chance to find a new spot to sing before the snow hit Seattle. Just before midnight with only hours to spare, I drove from my house in Greenwood all the way to West Seattle to sing at A Terrible Beauty. Taking into account the distance and the impending storm, I understood the two shots of Cazadores I usually take with my first beer to help loosen me up could not be enjoyed this night.

The Book: Many song binders were laid out on tables throughout the bar. Half were organized by artist, the other half by song title. The artist catalog was 174 pages thick.

The Setup: Just like the original in Renton, this is a gorgeous Irish pub furnished in wall-to-wall dark wood. They have an elevated stage in the corner, in front of the windows that look out onto California Avenue. From the stage, the performers sing out to the entire bar. There is a monitor onstage and a big plasma TV above the bar that displays the lyrics. They have a solid sound system, and the microphones sound very good.

The KJ: Karaoke Kelli hosts Tuesday nights here and Wednesdays at the Renton location. I became an instant fan last fall during a slow Monday at the Skylark, where she, her co-host Si-err-ahh, and I wore funny hats (along with other props from her costume rack) and traded off a bunch of Beatles songs for two hours. Si-err-ahh wasn't there this time, but the bartender, Krystal, filled that backup role nicely.

The Audience: Around 20 people were spread throughout the room. Everyone seated along the bar had a direct angle to view the performers, but no one was paying much attention to the show. It was a casual crowd, mostly guys drinking beers and shooting the shit.

The Rotation: Six male and three female vocalists made up the rotation. I got up three times in the first hour I was there.

The Performances: The first songs I caught were Hall & Oates numbers. A dude in his 30s named Ian sang "She's Gone," then a Filipino named Reg (who could pass for Manny Pacquiao's twin) totally nailed "Sara Smile." The proceedings were pretty good in the sense that there were a lot of creative song choices and everyone tried their best. There weren't any jokers who got up as a goof to intentionally sound like shit. The most random number was by a guy who did the early-'80s classic "Lunatic Fringe" by Red Rider.

My voice was solid, but my song picks were lame compared to the energized numbers performed by everyone who sang before me. And the lack of booze directly affected my ability to grab the crowd's attention. I delivered what I thought was a pretty good rendition of Howard Jones' "No One Is to Blame," but it barely got any applause.

Ian's best number was "Love Lies Bleeding" by Elton John. Kelli, Krystal, and this gal Lindsay took turns singing with each other. Their finest offerings were "Living Room" by Tegan and Sara, "Blister in the Sun" by Violent Femmes, and Roxy Music's "Love Is the Drug." The last singer was called up at 1:20 a.m. Kelli would have taken it later, but everyone was done at that point.


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