(Guest post by Sarah Cunningham).
The District has a lot of nearly everything you can imagine…But one thing I hear again and again is that there is not enough karaoke. There’s Peyote Cafe and there’s Cafe Japone, and a handful of others, but people seem to stumble when needing to come up with a karaoke bar, and come up with it quick.
But it just so happens this little shortage has been solved, as there’s a new show in town: Harikaraoke, karaoke with a twist–karaoke with a live band. Doesn’t that make perfect sense? Harikaraoke happens every Tuesday night at Wonderland in Columbia Heights (yes, yes, I know, Wonderland is a well-traveled bar, not exactly off the beaten path, but their Harikaraoke is still a secret enough that warrants posting).
The band behind this genius is a 4-man show that molds to just about every brave soul that takes the mic. The keyboard player is intense and wonderful, pounding out his keys while making eye contact with each singer, urging them on and on as they belt out whichever classic they’ve chosen. The bass player has the classic flowy hair of a band-man and keeps the beat like a force to be reckoned with; the drummer rocks out his rhythms in great time; and the guitarist is known to take the lead and break out into some mad solos when the force takes him. The MC is adorable, with blue heels and a fedora hat, and a voice fit for the stage. Together, they give every singer their shot at the stage, and they rock the house.
There must be something about doing karaoke with a live band, as there were some class acts. One very classy gentleman took the stage and started singing “Tempted by the Fruit of Another” oh-so-softly into the microphone, never once glancing at the lyrics. As the band got into the song, so did the singer, raising his pitch more and more, until he was howling into the mic, accompanied with a few twists and twirls and even a scream for the audience. As he bowed and took his leave, a lovely young woman came up and rocked the house with “It’s Raining Men”. In an ode to the Spice Girls, an unforgettable trio belted out “Tell Me What You Want”, complete with hand gestures and the works. Another lovely lady wooed us all with “Lost Without You”, and my friend Jose dazzled the bar with his version of “Billy Jean” (yes, he danced in tribute to dear MJ, too!). Finally, the adorable fedora-wearing, blue-heel-clad MC took the microphone and closed the night with Prince’s “Purple Rain”, which got the whole audience crooning along with her as the night came to a close. I was honestly so sad that it was over! (And hoarse, as I was too chicken to take the stage, but sang my heart out along with every singer from my seat.)
Oh, did I mention that it is free to get in, and comes with a bar special of $3 brewskis accompanied by a complimentary shot of “liquid courage” (aka: vodka)?? Tuesday nights at Wonderland–8 pm – 10 pm. See you there!