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First Gig as a Karaoke Artist

Discussion in 'Bass Humor & Gig Stories [BG]' started by chaosMK, Jan 31, 2014.

  1. chaosMK


    May 26, 2005
    Albuquerque, NM
    Hi-fi into an old tube amp
    I signed up for this karaoke thing at my company's conference taking place in Palm Springs because they said the desperately needed participants. Anyway, I show up and it's this massive thing. When people say karaoke I am thinking some dark little dive bar. This was like my worst nightmare, except literally magnified (like there were movie screens on each side too). The pic below is just like a small fraction of the number of people there. I am like holy crap- my first gig as a karaoke artist is going to have more people than my last two CD release shows (which packed the venues) combined.


    This made me more nervous about the whole thing because I am a bassist for a reason. If I thought I was an awesome (or passable) singer I'd probably have tried it by now.

    These were the measures I took:

    -I knew the song I was going to cover in advance so I practiced a little
    -I txted a number of friends (after seeing the scale of this thing) and explained to them that I was taking a sh*t
    -Prior to the event, after practicing for a few minutes I made a quick recording on my phone and the recording was very "poor quality" - there were a lot of pitch issues (it was 90% pitch issues... my vocal range is around 2 tones) and it sounded like me, but even worse. Like a bad answering machine message.

    What I learned from this first "gig" :

    -It rocks to do this type of thing with a backing band. I think their band leader was the bassist and he was a cool dude (who backed me up big time). There was obviously a lot more mojo on stage and mojo is my primary source of energy.
    -Most people don't have an ear for music like a musician does. Where I might hear an awful performance, I am pretty sure bystanders just see a person on stage and the sound of drums or something
    -People perceive the stage moves mainly. The only thing I'm worse at than singing is dancing, but I am thankful that's what my associates claim to have remembered. I am pretty sure I sang the entire tune in the wrong key and slightly flat due to my limited vocal range

    Anyone else ever get stressed out by their first karaoke gig or have a tremendous fear of their own voice in general?
    SeamzKing likes this.
  2. pklima


    May 2, 2003
    Kraków, Polska
    I've never done proper karaoke, but it sounds like it was ultimately not so bad, and probably a really useful experience.

    You survived, and really karaoke, even if it is a big event, is one place where you're allowed to be terrible. As long as you don't lose your place, make an honest effort to sound decent and don't look completely terrified, most people will probably think you did well.
  3. Disclaimer. I don't and never will do Karaoke but:-

    I went to an open mic night and the band (bunch of miscreants!) on stage were calling for someone to sing Crossoads (Cream) which is one I used to sing with my band.

    Our lead guitarist volunteered me to sing it and I really enjoyed it.

    I have never sung on stage before without a bass round my neck and struggled with what to do with my hands, eventually I put them in my back pockets to keep them still.

    It is nice however to have time to think what the next verse is instead of relying on instinct and panicking internally when you are only a couple of beats away from starting singing and still haven't got the first line.
  4. Rune Bivrin

    Rune Bivrin Supporting Member

    Oct 2, 2006
    Huddinge, Sweden
    Been, there, done that...

    But truth be told, you could probably sing the lyrics to "Smoke on the water" over the music to "It must have been love" and most people wouldn't notice.
  5. hrodbert696

    hrodbert696 Moderator Staff Member Supporting Member

    Y'know what - karaoke is fun. There, I said it. It is. You can't take it too seriously, and you can't judge yourself or anybody else by the standards of a professional, rehearsed performance. It's just playing around and having fun. I love doing it, and if people want to sing as part of having their party, I think that's all to the good for the future of music. If I think about it, I can trace the chain of events that led to me picking up bass (at 38) to singing James Brown in a German karaoke bar with a bunch of students. Started me thinking how much I liked being on stage performing.
  6. Kmonk


    Oct 18, 2012
    South Shore, Massachusetts
    Endorsing Artist: Fender, Spector, Ampeg, Curt Mangan Strings, Nordstrand Pickups, Korg Keyboards
    If I walk into a place and find out that they have karaoke, I walk out. My wife and I went to a Chinese restaurant and shortly after we placed our order we noticed a guy setting up a PA. I asked the waiter if there was a band and he said that it was karaoke. I promptly told him to cancel our order and we left. Its bad enough when you go to a club and hear cover bands butchering songs. Its even worse when karaoke singers do it.
    StuartV likes this.
  7. punkjazzben


    Jun 26, 2008

    Karaoke is all about having fun, overcoming inhibitions, and having a blast being stupid on stage with your friends.

    Musicians who whinge about karaoke remind me of those reclusive old dudes with ultra-realistic model train sets, and who won't let kids touch them because "it's not a toy to be played with!"
    Fat Steve and fraublugher like this.
  8. I've played (suffered) in enough bands with poor singers and I don't need to hear anymore thank you, but YMMV of course.

    I will leave karaoke to those that enjoy it.
  9. The Professor

    The Professor

    Nov 15, 2008
    New Jersey
    I started and have been playing in a karaoke band for the last 3 years.

    I have to say it is the greatest musical project I've ever been a part of and encourage others to try doing it. It's a butt-load of work and requires the right mind-set, but it turns you into a wicked musician; and packed gigs fall out of the sky into your lap.
    fraublugher likes this.
  10. Gravedigger Dav

    Gravedigger Dav Supporting Member

    Mar 13, 2014
    Fort Worth, Texas
    My brother and his family are big into Karaoke. He has a big time rig and like 50,000 songs. They go out and they also have monthly Karaoke parties at their house. I am glad he is 250 miles away, because he will always pester me until I agree to participate when I am in Houston.
    There is a reason I am not a front man and the 85% of my singing is backup parts. The other 15% is very carefully chosen. (meaning none of my band mates thew up or burst into tears or laughter when I tried it.
    Getting coerced into trying it in pubic once was a seriously embarrasing moment for me. It was one of those moments where I wished to be just about the height of the grout lines in the tile floor so I could escape unnoticed.
    I found it kind of like trying to play Guitar Hero. It just isn't the same.
  11. I have a friend who runs a Karaoke biz, has for decades now – so I understand all the reasons why people go and enjoy it.

    I also understand why people refuse to have anything to do with karaoke, many reasons have already been mentioned in this thread, I could add many more.

    You can put me in the latter group. I've never been to my friend's karaoke nights, ever, and never will. If his band is playing, I'll go, he's an awesome singer. Also, is it really "karaoke" if it's a band backing the singer? I've never heard of that, only heard of the pre-recorded backing track stuff.

    I, too, will walk out and leave the karaoke (pre-recorded backing or live band backing) to those that enjoy it. Power to 'em.

    OP, I hope your "gig" went better than you thought it did.
  12. theduke1

    theduke1 Supporting Member

    Dec 22, 2010
    Manitowoc WI
    The one thing I find is people who play in a band can sing karaoke as far as timing goes. Their vocal talent is what it is.
    But people who are just karaoke singers can't sing with a live band.
    I also know that most people who get up and sing karaoke SHOULDN'T EVER!
  13. The Professor

    The Professor

    Nov 15, 2008
    New Jersey
    I would agree to a point... there's a learning curve for karaoke singers, but they eventually "get it". We've seen some regulars at our gigs make huge steps forward; to the point that 2 or 3 of them have gotten into singing in bands.
  14. walterw

    walterw Supportive Fender Gold Supporting Member Commercial User

    Feb 20, 2009
    heck yeah! (and that's what i thought the thread was about)

    my one band has been doing "rock-y-oke" for a few years now; not all the time, but when the fat private and corporate gigs find us, that's what they want. it can be awesome or it can be ridiculous, but it's always a blast and it's not something every band can pull off, which i'm pretty proud of.

    how do you manage lyrics and such? we've just got paper sheets in books for the guest singers to read off of while they sing, but i'd love some sort of video display instead (one that doesn't break the bank or rely on drunk strangers holding my expensive and fragile ipad!)
  15. Smooth_bass88

    Smooth_bass88 Groove it Supporting Member

    Oct 31, 2006
    We used to do live band karaoke. Guitar, bass (me), drums, and whoever wanted to come up, hey sing any song you want. We'll fake it if need be. We even had a bunch of 'originals people' come and teach us their song on the spot. I actually got a few sessions out of this gig as well as some decent work with a guy who flew us to L.A. a few times. Plus, it forces you to be on your toes and listen. A great way to improve as a musician.
  16. swamp_bass

    swamp_bass I love it when a groove comes together

    Nov 20, 2013
    North Cackalacky
    In college, I finally succumbed to Karaoke at the local bar after years of saying it was stupid. I ended up enjoying it, and we were regulars. Sure beat the hell out of darts or billiards.
  17. mellowinman

    mellowinman Free Man

    Oct 19, 2011
    I do karaoke so I can sing songs my band refuses to learn/are incapable of learning/have instrumentation we don't have, or just because I'm there, and I have to. My wife and I have run a friend's show a few times, as a favor. There was never much money for it, and it gets harsh after awhile, but we sang quite frequently at some places, just to keep the momentum going.

    I like doing Joe Cocker, Blood Sweat & Tears and other soulful white blues type stuff, because it suits my voice, and no way is Dirty Lixx going to play that stuff.

    Karaoke can be fun.
  18. LiquidMidnight


    Dec 25, 2000
    Thankfully powderfinger's cousin wasn't there that night.
  19. Fat Steve

    Fat Steve The poodle bites, the poodle chews it.

    Today I learned that Karaoke is serious business.
  20. The Professor

    The Professor

    Nov 15, 2008
    New Jersey
    When we started, it was with physical/printed lyrics. That became a PITA after 5 or 6 months and it became nearly unmanageable when we passed the 200-song threshold.

    I started using a tablet with an HDMI-out that is wired to a TV screen. I run .pdf's and move/scroll the lyrics for the vocalists. It took a while to get down the multitasking (reading charts, playing, and running lyrics), but it's made me a WAAAY better player. There are already very few karaoke bands, few that are good, and even fewer with the video lyrics... so it's made a huge difference.