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Davis, California

Thursday, July 18, 2024

Downtown Davis Karaoke

“Who sings this song?”

“Journey.”

“Keep it that way.”

Well, some may not have the option. Since the concept of karaoke (a rough translation of the Japanese phrase meaning “empty orchestra”) hit the bars and nightclubs worldwide, anyone and everyone can claim their rights to a microphone and perform a rendition of a song of their choosing … and nobody can stop them.

And so it has become, when there are designated nights at bars during which people are actually expected to make fools of themselves. Karaoke nights have opened up the performance stage to amateurs and although the Davis bar scene is no Mondavi, performers can still command an audience.

Even if the audience members are just waiting in pain for their own turns, karaoke nights can help turn singles into anthems and drag forgotten classics back from the depths. Karaoke nights hosted exclusively by bars insinuates that a generous flow of alcohol is usually involved; encouraging this participatory experience that will either create memories or just as easily be forgotten the morning after.

For those who enjoy partaking in activities that provide such bountiful opportunities for embarrassment, here is, in time for summer, an updated roundup of each Downtown Davis venue that hosts a karaoke night. Because even though you aren’t Celine Dion or Elton John, with enough alcohol, you can pretend to be.

Mondays: Little Prague Restaurant and Bar, 330 G St.
The weekend is over, but the bars are no less packed. Take the stage to a reasonably sized crowd at Little Prague on Mondays and get your Backstreet Boys on.

“We have the second biggest environment in Davis,” said Vaclav Burger, owner of Little Prague. “And we are international — we have a lot of international people coming in, which makes the difference.”

Here, like at other venues, performers can request any song out of an extensive selection, present it to Wes, the karaoke jockey, and even request for it to be transposed up or down a key to accommodate an individual’s vocal range.

“Karaoke night is awesome. [But] it’ll usually take a little drunkenness to do it,” said Kylie Harris, bartender. “We have drink specials — not just on Mondays, but every night. They change frequently, but we always try to have a shooter and a mixed drink available for $4-5.”

Little-known fact: if you sing a song, you get half-off a drink at the bar, which is probably intended to fuel your courage to sing another one.

“We have almost 260 bottles of alcohol,” Burger said. “You can’t find that anywhere else. We can make you a drink that will blow your mind.”

Tuesdays: G Street Wunderbar, 228 G St.
Here, every Tuesday from 9:30 p.m. to closing, the stage is home to regulars, making it out way before the weekend to enjoy “the best night of the week.”

“This one’s different because it’s a bar night plus karaoke,” said Drew DelReal, UC Davis alumnus longtime bartender at Wunderbar. “The DJ plays music between every song, so that it’s not just people doing karaoke.”

So, “real” artists layered between performances from Davis’ finest. But of course, like everywhere else, alcohol is a major player.

“Usually, when people go up, it’s because it’s the fun thing to do because you’re drunk enough to do it,” DelReal said.

On that note, drink specials are always available during karaoke night, something affordable for under $5 that, as DelReal said, “shouldn’t be under $5.” It’ll change constantly, from an Apple Ginger ($5) to a Woodford Reserve (also $5).

The song selection, drink specials and atmosphere attract a crowd of people who generally don’t go out too much on the weekend, according to DelReal.

“We’ll get groups of girls who come out early in the week to avoid the creeps of the weekend,” he said. “Many come because they feel safe here. If a guy is making you feel uncomfortable, let us know and we’ll actually take care of it.”

So, ladies, no need to feel smothered with any inappropriate affection after a brilliant performance. Feel free to go up alone or in groups of two, three, eight, with birthday parties, to show the entire bar the pipes you’ve got. Some may wonder … at what point does this get annoying?

“It doesn’t, because you’re drunk,” DelReal said.

Woodstock’s Pizza, 219 G St.
Across the street from Wunderbar is Woodstock’s, home of Wednesday-night karaoke. In case Monday and Tuesday weren’t enough, karaoke lovers can nosh on some hump-day pizza while waiting their turn for the third karaoke event of the week. Starting at 10 p.m. and continuing until last call around 1 a.m., the bar serves drink specials such as $5-Jaeger shots and $5 shots of Dragon’s Breath (Fireball whiskey and cinnamon schnapps). With the recent upgrade to a full bar, Woodstocks can likely expect to see an increase in over-enthused individuals wanting to belt out their personal jams.

Take advantage of the rare opportunity to have your voice heard whilst inebriated. Monday through Wednesday downtown, the stage is yours.

LANI CHAN can be reached at arts@theaggie.org.

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