Posted March 16, 2015
Comfort is key to karaoke.
The singer must feel the music, letting inhibitions melt away and the inner Celine Dion emerge.
The audience must appreciate the effort. Sing-alongs and responses can embolden even the most shy to pick up the mic.
If you haven't had a great karaoke night lately, I would suggest you've just not found your comfort zone.
Based on experience and recommendations, here are some of the best karaoke experiences in the Triangle.
Where the regulars sing
O'Malleys, just off Glenwood Avenue in Raleigh, is your typical neighborhood bar that works karaoke into the mid-week mix and has a deep bench of regulars willing to belt out the classics. The food, service and friendliness of O'Malleys make it worth an evening no matter when you go.
The Overtime Sports Pub is my east Raleigh neighborhood haunt. (I picked it as one of my Five Fave Sports Bars.) So imagine my surprise one December Saturday during college bowl season when the TVs were silenced in favor of karaoke. While the pool of singers was small, the crowd clearly enjoyed the give and take.
A Durham version of the same, bar-based karaoke is Bralies in Durham on Carpenter Fletcher Road. Nona leads an enthusiastic crowd through standards every Monday and Thursday at this family-owned, well-loved hole in the wall.
If you're ready to go beyond the slightly buzzed, crowd-fueled karaoke for a more refined experience, make the trip to Star in Durham. There you will find private rooms available by reservation and equipped with the latest tools and tech to refine your sound. Rates start at $35 an hour for up to 11 people.
How real is the Star experience? Information on their website is also offered in Japanese.
Finally, there is Flex, a gay bar in downtown Raleigh. There, karaoke contestants compete every Tuesday for the title of Superstar, and 12 advance to the finals for a chance at a $500 prize. If you're not up to the challenge, Flex has karaoke on Sundays and Mondays with a less intense vibe.