There were only two things the karaoke in Indiana had in common with the karaoke in Michigan. Both were outside. I didn’t think that I would have one, never mind two, times, never mind two times in a row, where I would find myself singing in the great outdoors. Whereas the karaoke in Detroit was in the afternoon under the blazing sun, the karaoke here didn’t get underway until 10:30pm, and therefore we all got to sing under the stars. The evening was significantly cooler than those in previous days, and the night had a soft breeze to it that made me want my jacket for the first time since I left Oregon.
The setting was a neat, clean patio made of Trex decking and faux tile tables. My Miller Lite tallboy ran me $4.50; we were in a very trendy neighborhood in Indianapolis. The crowd skewed very young, and most chose to sing in pairs or groups. Unlike the singers in Detroit who sang with confidence and appeared to enjoy their time in the spotlight, the singers here needed the security blanket of another. Beyoncé, Maroon 5, Celine Dion (covering Meatloaf), B-52s, Vanessa Carlton and the Eagles – none were sung solo, or at least not alone. Those that did brave being solo onstage at least brought their beer for company. They sang to their friends, not the crowd as a whole. Their friends were supportive and clapped and whooped when the songs were done, but did so from afar, in the area where smoking was permitted. The scent of cloves dominated the air.
After one odd duet, a woman laughed at her partner into the microphone, “Nick, you’re a fucking dick;” the bouncer came up to remind them, “No cussing outdoors.” I felt sorry for anyone who chose to live in this area. I’m sure those that rented or bought here figured on dealing with bar patron noise as people hopped from one place to another, and then got into their cars when the lights went out. But dealing with bad singing until 3am is a whole other ballgame. And as the evening progressed, that seemed exactly what people were in for. I got in one song early on, but two hours later, I was still waiting for my second chance, and gave up. It was a Wednesday night after all, and my friend needed to get to work the next morning. I wonder who among us did as well.
The other thing that this bar had in common with Michigan was its fun environment. These singers, for the most part, weren’t good, but they were all-in, smiling and having a ball. There is something about singing in the open air that feels freeing – more comfortable than I imagined. I didn’t expect singing outside versus inside to be all that different, but it is. Summer karaoke brings a special quality to it, if you can sing to the light of the moon – and you don’t have to listen to it from your apartment window.
- Location: Monkey’s Tale, Indianapolis, IN
- Miles traveled: 375
- Songs sung: Heart of Glass (Blondie)