Karaoke is in sync with students

by Yasuyuki Kobayashi

A University student sang “Girls Just Want To Have Fun,” while a crowd danced and cheered Thursday at karaoke night at a campus bar.
Tara Liebergen, a sophomore in the school of nursing, was one of many bar patrons enjoying a trend that has made a comeback after a lull in popularity. Some say that they are rediscovering karaoke as a stress reliever and a unique form of bar entertainment.
“It’s just fun,” Liebergen said at BW-3 in Dinkytown, one of a handful of bars in the University area that offers a karaoke night.
Singing in front of hundreds does not bother Liebergen, although she is too afraid to sing by herself. “Some of my friends have to be drunk before they will do it. I do not care,” she said.
Lia Farianchek, a graphic design student, sang while surrounded by a coterie of dancers. Her moves were slick and her voice had a professional quality. “I wanted the crowd riled up while I was singing karaoke,” she said.
Singing is the best part of the night for Katie Vietter, a freshman in the College of Liberal Arts. “It is a lot of fun,” she said after she sang with her friends. “We like to come here because there are a lot of people.” She comes every Thursday to karaoke night every.
Doug Davis is the host of the karaoke nights at BW-3 as well as the owner of the entertainment company 12 String Karaoke Entertainment. He said the crowd has been growing since he started karaoke night at the bar about a year ago.
“This place gets so packed, 90.6 degrees here on the cool side,” Davis said.
Davis not only features more than 50 singers a night, but also sings a few songs at the beginning until patrons start to sing.
Davis said he knows how to encourage patrons to sing. “You are singing at least one or two songs before the night is up. Just getting over that fear. Everybody wants to sing.”
BW-3 started karaoke nights last March when they held a party for students leaving for spring vacation. That karaoke night was so successful that they decided to continue it every Thursday.
After Lower Landing and Grill moved out last November, BW-3 bought the bar and brought the karaoke system downstairs. Owners added a karaoke night on Fridays five weeks ago.
Despite full houses at BW-3, karaoke nights are generally not as popular in the Twin Cities as in the western states.
Davis said that although the fad was hot several years ago, he thinks there was a decrease in popularity until last year.
Stub & Herb’s, a campus bar on the East Bank, removed their system about a month ago. Jeff Kondes, a manager at the bar, said older patrons do not like to sing.
Bob Turtle, an owner of Stardust Bowling Lanes in south Minneapolis, has seen a steady growth in karaoke patrons since he started a karaoke night seven years ago.
Stardust management replaced Wednesday and Thursday live bands with the karaoke nights three weeks ago.
“We put the bands in here, nobody comes in. I had put karaoke back in, now crowds are coming back in,” Turtle said.
Michael Tracy hosts the shows Sunday through Thursday at the bar. Although karaoke means “empty orchestra,” in Japanese, it means “emotional release” to Tracy.
“This is really good release” Tracy said. “(People sing) to release their weekly frustration in their lives.”