On Stage at Backstage

Backstage provide a place to share a few minutes of fame with familiar strangers.

I have no shame, at least when it comes singing.  Apparently, most people don't have shame either. 

On any given Thursday through Saturday from 8 p.m. to close, people from far and wide—including Playa Del Rey and Westchester—flock to Backstage Bar and Grill to belt out a tune or two during karaoke hours, either on stage or along with those brave enough to be on stage. 

I am of the belief that people have their karaoke songs and that most of the songs fall into a certain genre.  I tested this theory by conducting a survey on Facebook, crowdsourcing my friends who were not blocked from seeing my status updates.  The survey was combined with empirical data (watching people karaoke) and interviews (after people sang, which is often after they had had their second drink). Through these methods, I found that the songs and people generally fell into the following categories.

Some people preferred being the song leader.  When my entourage and I first arrived, a gentleman was leading the room in “Bohemian Rhapsody.”  Classic rock and “Wayne’s World” fans alike merrily sang along, banging their heads at the appropriate time.  “Sweet Caroline” was akin to a call and response as other patrons knew when to raise their voices with ‘so good! so good!’.  “Don’t Stop Believing" and “Living On A Prayer”, bar classics and staples in this song leader and sing-along category, were sung at some point during the evening. 

Another group of songs that roused the crowd were the Angry Girl songs.  Much like group therapy, Backstage and these songs provided a safe space for us to be angry together through Alanis Morisette tunes (basically, “U Oughta Know”), Adele, and Gloria Raynor.  My song, “Total Eclipse of the Heart,” fell into this category.  Though a group of girls usually led the songs, guys often sang along.  But guys also had their own karaoke genre that could best be classified as Rock Star, Air Guitar, and Other Dreams.  Whereas girls reveled in singing angry break up songs, guys opted for having their five minutes of rock star stardom with “Sweet Child of Mine”, “Bat Out of Hell,” and “Gimme Shelter.”  These are the songs that required air guitar and screaming.

Then there were the songs that dragged us out of the closet, or at least our teenage, Tiger Beat-decorated room days.  We may mock MC Hammer and Vanilla Ice in public; deep inside, we loved their songs.  At karaoke, it was ok to sing “Ice, Ice Baby” and “You Can’t Touch This.”  At karaoke, we loudly rhymed not only the chorus but also the verses.  Deep inside, we might even know “Too Legit to Quit.”  
So, whether you are the Group Leader, Angry Girl, Rock Star Wanna-Be, or a Hammer fan, Backstage is a great place to share a song—or twenty—with familiar strangers.

So what’s your song?

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Mary McGrath September 20, 2011 at 01:51 PM
I wish there were more karaoke places where you could sing during the day. Know of any?
Winter Johnson September 20, 2011 at 09:42 PM
What about any of the spots in Little Tokyo?
Mary McGrath September 21, 2011 at 12:26 AM
Oh, that's a great idea. There is karaoke on Tuesdays and Wednesdays at the Culver City Senior Center for those who are over 50...(well, they don't check your ID!)-Tuesdays from 10:30-12:30, and Wednesdays from 2:30-4:30. But locally, I think most places only operate at night...
suzi fox October 05, 2011 at 04:18 PM
Does anyone know of a venue that has live bands that play Americana Rock 'n Roll or Rockabilly style music?
Jeff Cooper October 05, 2011 at 06:09 PM
The Cinema Bar on Sepulveda Blvd.


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