What did we discover by visiting three local karaoke bars?
• That Sacramento is still a karaoke hot spot. Even on oddball nights (like Mondays), you’ll find a crowd.
• That you need to be a night owl. (Most don’t kick off until 9 p.m.)
• That you don’t need to be able to carry a tune. (Many warbled wildly off-key.)
Mostly, what you need for karaoke is guts—and lacking that, you can always choose to be an observer and not a participant.
But where to go? Here are a few spots where karaoke is king.
Venue: THE DISTILLERY, 2107 L St., Sacramento
Karaoke schedule: Sunday–Thursday, starting at 9 p.m.
Crowd: Cross-generational mix, from 20s to 70s
Song sampler: “It’s Not Unusual,” “Don’t Speak,” “I’ve Got You Under My Skin”
Surprise of the night: Met a young pilot who regularly drops by to sing when he’s on a stopover
Verdict: Exposed brick walls, warm candlelight and friendly folks make this Sacramento institution a cozy place for crooning.
Venue: PINE COVE, 502 29th St., Sacramento
Karaoke schedule: Thursday–Saturday, starting at 9 p.m.
Crowd: Mostly 30- and 40-somethings, plus a few seniors
Song sampler: “Always On My Mind,” “Where the Streets Have No Name,” “My Way”
Surprise of the night: A mostly-flat “Fly Me to the Moon,” sung by the karaoke jock (KJ) himself
Verdict: If you like old school dive bars, this is the spot, but be prepared for a loud and tinny sound system.
Venue: ON THE Y, 670 Fulton Ave., Sacramento
Karaoke schedule: Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, starting around 9 p.m.
Crowd: Raucous, beer-chugging college students, including girls in bikini tops
Song sampler: “Margaritaville,” “Sugar, We’re Goin’ Down,” “Ice Cream Man”
Surprise of the night: Polite Sac State student struck up a conversation with us, making us feel welcome
Verdict: With an excellent sound system and KJ, this is a great place to rock if you can get past your initial willies.