We’ve all been there. It’s Friday night. You’re hanging out with your friends. You’ve been responsibly enjoying a few beverages, and the conversation turns to what adventures you and your crew will get up to this evening. Eventually, someone makes that tantalizing suggestion — karaoke.
Saskatoon is home to a great many karaoke venues, so deciding where to go is the first step. Depending on the vibe you’re going for, the east side has the Colonial Pub & Grill, Whiskey Jacks and Amigos Cantina. The Colonial hosts karaoke every night of the week, Whiskey Jacks hosts on Tuesdays and Fridays, and Amigos hosts every Thursday.
For those inexperienced in the art of karaoke, Amigos has singers do their thing on stage, which can be a bit intimidating. However, the stage really adds to your performance experience once you are comfortable with it.
If you’re on the west side or downtown, you can hit up Daisy’s Restaurant and Lounge on Thursday, Friday or Saturday. Daisy’s is a little tricky to find, so throw it in your Google Maps before you leave the house, but once you get there, you won’t be disappointed. Whereas most places just use YouTube, Daisy’s uses specialized software for its show, meaning you get a really good selection of high-quality tracks.
Flint Saloon is a great place to end your weekend-long karaoke marathon on Sunday. This spot is nestled in the heart of downtown, so be prepared to fight for parking. However, it’s a cozy place and less intimidating than the bigger bars — plus their cocktails are some of the best in the city.
If you want a really special experience, check out Rocksugar Karaoke and Restaurant on Eighth Street East. Rocksugar really channels the experience of 1970s Japanese karaoke — rather than singing to a room full of strangers, they have six private rooms where you and a group of friends can serenade each other. They have a wide selection of high-quality music, featuring an array of tunes from East Asian countries, like South Korea and Japan.
Crackers Restaurant Lounge & Karaoke in the north end is one of Saskatoon’s hidden gems. Like Rocksugar and Daisy’s, they have specialized software with thousands of songs and an app that you can download to look through them without having to deal with a bulky binder. Unlike most of the other venues, their sound system is also set up for karaoke. However, Crackers’ claim to fame is that they have a league to compete in.
Yes, there is a karaoke league — three, in fact. Crackers holds them from September to November, January to March and May to June. Every performer signs up for one of three nights — Tuesday, Wednesday or Thursday — and each week of the league has a different theme.
Performers sing two songs and are judged on their vocals, performance and costuming. Every night is open to the public, so feel free to go and watch. If you want to get involved with the league or get more details, visit crackersrestaurant.org. There is often a waiting list to get in, so get your name in early. Non-league nights are Friday to Monday.
Remember that the number-one rule of karaoke is to have fun. You might think you won’t sound good, but that isn’t the point. The main thing is to go out, sing a song you really love and share that experience with others.
On the plus side, all of these venues are bars, and we all know that having a beverage or two does wonders for your confidence. Just be safe, be responsible and make a plan for how you’re going to get home at the end of the night.
Graphic: Mary Sarcauga