Trader Todd’s in Lakeview. Wow; that was quite a departure from the Hidden Cove. I’d have to say it was probably the polar opposite of the Hidden Cove actually. Entrenched firmly in the heart of the Wrigleyville/Clark-belmont on Sheffield at belmont, Trader Todd’s is definitely is a product of it’s neighborhood. There seemed to be several core groups there; one large pack of alums from Iowa State (all donning yellow hawkeyes shirts), a bachelorette party (complete with veil and feather boa wearing bride to be), a group of folks probably just a touch older than us (putting them at their late 30s/early 40s) and of course our group, which was in our late early 3os.

Sadly, I didn’t partake in any of the karaoke this time; I had my eye on singing either Surrender or I want you to want me from Cheap Trick, but after going up to the DJ booth, and waiting in line for about 20 minutes without moving I just wanted to get back to my drink (long island iced tea; which was nice and potent; always a good thing for a karaoke night).

Admitting defeat, partially, if i had to wait that long just to put my name in, I’m not sure I really wanted to hang around waiting for my turn to belt out the “surrenders”.  The song listing was kind of haphazard; as I can imagine, the binders get a bit trashed with people flipping thru in a drunken haze, the songs were largely standards, and 80s-90s pop confections.

Some of the highlights of the evening were a fun rendition of Pat Benetar’s Hit me with your best shot and Bonnie Tyler’s Total Eclipse of the heart.  On the other end of the scale, we sat through a painful duet of Stevie Nicks/Don Henley’s Leather and Lace, Counting Crows’ Mr. Jones, and I remember leaving the establishment when the LP-length-trainwreck of Meatloaf’s Paradise by the light of the Dashboard started.

By my un-trained eye, I’d say that 30% of karaoke is singing ability, another 30% is showmanship, but the other 30% is choosing the right kind of song. (yeah, i suppose there’s 10% missing there, and I’m going to chalk that up to having a good entourage with you to cheer you on).   But regarding the right kind of song, I’ve learned the hard way that songs that I might particularly like, aren’t necessarily interesting to sing or have to listen to; for instance Iggy Pop’s Lust for life.  Great song, gets clipped for lots of commercials; but karaoke? I’m sad to say that it’s just long and painful, with a lot of wooos.

Remarkably, this is probably why Summer Lovin‘ is probably so annoyingly omnipresent in the Karaoke universe.  Good interplay for a duet, not a lot of musical interludes, and everyone just goes a little crazy for Grease.

Anyhow, back to Trader Todd’s.  While it seemed to be a frat-style haven since remarkably, the hipster quotient there was pretty small (I suppose in the scheme of things, we were the hipsters in the bar) Most of the songs that were sung totally straight forward, totally free of the irony that was dripping at the Hidden Cove; which was refreshing, it’s just that some of them were just kinda painful (for instance, 4non blondes’ What’s going on).

Something entirely neat about Trader Todd’s though was that all the performances were caught on cam, beamed throughout the bar, and i believe for an extra fee can be purchased.