At Kate's Pub, the Microphone Smells Like a Beer

Drinking is essential to the karaoke experience.

Drinking is an essential part of enjoying any karaoke night. It provides the energy to motivate people to sing, as well as the patience to tolerate horrible singers. Recently I came to realize that I haven't been doing enough drinking lately. Aside from every weekend at Tarasco, it's been months since I truly tied one on while checking out a new karaoke bar.

Since I mostly review spots during the week, the fear of feeling like shit at my day job has subconsciously caused me to install a governor on my intake. As a result, singing hasn't been nearly as much fun. Karaoke or no karaoke, what's the point of hanging out in a bar around a bunch of drunk people if you're not going to get drunk yourself? Plus, every time I sing without enough booze in me, I'm distracted by it to the point where I'm literally thinking about how I wish I had more to drink as I'm singing the song.

This week I arranged Thursday off from work so I could get wasted at Kate's Pub in Wallingford on Wednesday night. I grabbed my buddy Juan, and we got there just before the show started at 9 p.m. My plan was to get five slips in quickly, and take a shot before and after performing each one. And just for good measure, I brought a list I'd compiled of the most played-out karaoke songs, and decided to take a J├Ąger shot any time one of those songs was sung.

Kate's has a nice, cozy setup with the stage in the front, the bar in the back, tall tables against the side wall, and short tables on the floor. Its close proximity to the UW campus gives it the feel of a college bar, but it's really just a classic neighborhood bar.

Five minutes into the show, my buddy Lisa showed up. Between her and Juan, I wouldn't be able to tell you who is crazier about karaoke. All I know is I'd come in a close third. We each put up a song, and I took my first shot of Cazadores. An announcement scrolled across the singer-lineup ticker that the rotation was already 20 deep. Thus my plan to slam tequila before and after singing went out the door. Instead I ordered a shot pretty much every time a Kate's employee came to our table (every 15 minutes or so).

"Drinking time." That's what the KJ, Pat Clark, announces during the instrumental breaks in singers' performances. It's such a basic phrase, but the way he delivers it always makes me want to pound beer. I've been to many of his shows. As a host, he is pure energy. Lisa said he reminded her of Jonah Hill, but he's always struck me as the Grateful Dead Bear come to life.

I had enough of a buzz rolling for my first song, "Rocket Man," but my voice wasn't totally warmed up. Juan delivered a solid "Overkill" by Men at Work, and Lisa sang "Say You Love Me" by Fleetwood Mac beautifully. We were all a mess two hours later when we each got up again. I remember that the rest of the singers were solid, but nobody picked anything off my overplayed list until the end of the night, when a guy sang "Ice Ice Baby." The shot I took when that came on the speakers put me over the top.

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