Attention, amateur warblers: A new wave of Valley karaoke bars is singing your tune.
The art and business of karaoke has come a long way since the early 1980s, when the first Valley entrepreneur – we’re speculating here – showed up at a Downtown bar with some text-generating video equipment and a box of Neil Diamond CDs. In contrast, today’s karaoke fan has a multitude of genres, price-points and performance platforms from which to choose, including the Valley’s newest, swankiest karaoke palace: Blind Dragon in Old Town Scottsdale, an 8,500-square-foot nightclub where patrons can hog the mic until last call.
Want to mentally globe-trot? Come to this Irish bar (that used to be a German restaurant) on Wednesday night and enjoy a $3-off Scottish whiskey (we recommend the 12-year Balvenie, only $7), while the chica in the next booth belts out “Como La Flor.” Every Tuesday and Wednesday, the beloved pub becomes Camelback’s karaoke haunt of choice, with a broad, bilingual playlist.
906 E. Camelback Rd., Phoenix
Blind Dragon (pictured above)
Six private rooms, each with a distinct theme (example: the Veuve Cliquot Champagne room), sit off the main lounge at this lavish, TAO-esque nightclub. Known as “karaoke boxes” in Asia, the private-room model allows patrons to select and moderate their own music, in this case with iPad-style tablets. After your alone time is up (room rates start at $100 for two hours), join the party in the lounge, where Shanghai lanterns and Buddha art effects help inform the exotic ambiance.
7419 E. Indian Plz., Scottsdale
Sing Your Face Off! at Crescent Ballroom
Hosted by drag queen Pandora Destrange, this weekly karaoke takeover at Crescent – which runs from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. if it doesn’t conflict with a show – offers Downtown’s most rambunctious open-mic experience. It can also be cruelly exacting: For a small fee, hostile audience members can banish underperforming singers from the stage with the summary strike of a gong. The blood money is donated to charity.
308 N. Second Ave., Phoenix
Adjacent mothership Geisha A Go Go pioneered the karaoke box concept in the Valley, but this high-energy offshoot brings the open-audience format back to the Old Town property. It’s essentially a micro-lounge, with a small row of booths, a stage and a bar – the holy troika of vicarious rock-star thrills.
7140 E. Sixth Ave., Scottsdale