Singing and Dancing have long been a part of many cultures. The variations range from the Irish with their drinking songs to the religious groups with their hymnals. The music trend springing up in Provo and Orem is helping to break the midweek monotony and boredom. Restaurants are beginning to lure students and music lovers through their doors with the time old entertainment of karaoke.
Karaoke originated in Japan and is the act of singing along to a music video, especially from which the original vocals have been electronically eliminated.
But karaoke has many definitions. DJ Brady McDonald said, “karaoke gives people an opportunity to be an ass.” McDonald has been part of the karaoke revolution in Utah Valley over the past three years. McDonald started his career as a DJ while brainstorming another source of entertainment for college students. He had tried acoustic open-mic nights and comedy shows, but hadn’t landed with much success.
“Acoustic shows are hard to keep consistent because people take themselves too seriously and bands break up,” McDonald said.
So he approached the owner of Applebees with the idea of doing a karaoke night in the restaurant—and it was a hit.
“So many college students and people just want something to do. And it’s fun because it’s spur of the moment stuff and people can just show up.”
McDonald now runs a karaoke show at a few different locations, and the karaoke craze has exploded. “I’ve sat through Journey’s ‘Don’t Stop Believin’ over 2,000 times. After dealing with annoying people and hours of bad singing, I enjoy helping people have a good time. I enjoy having my jaw drop from hearing awesome people sing,” McDonald said when talking about the fulfillment he gets from his career as a DJ.
But McDonald isn’t the only one that benefits from the hours of singing. Guru’s owner Dean Judd also appreciates the business and variety of people that karaoke night brings into his restaurant. “I’m always about making my business grow. You don’t want to see me sing or dance, but people really like it.” With the earthy feel of the Guru’s atmosphere, live bands and karaoke singers feel right at home.
“We love to tag music with the restaurant,” said Judd.
Another hot spot for some good fun-filled singing is Wingnutz. The small tucked away corner bar is not only known for its tasty wings, but recently also the Wednesday night “rock the mic” night. The small edifice fills up quickly when the singing begins and people get that much needed breather from the weekday hustle and bustle.
Wingnutz owner, Nate Crawford opened his establishment in Orem about three years ago. He adapted the idea of karaoke from the prior success in his other restaurants in South Jordan and St. George. “It does really well with UVU and BYU, and I like to see my places fill up and have fun. It’s a good time,” Crawford said.
And last but not least to join the karaoke bandwagon is Pizza Pie Cafe, home of the fabulous all-you-can-eat pizza buffet. PR director and manager, Dennis Jordan Sr., realized that his location was an almost perfect distance between BYU and UVU and he wanted to draw in the student clientele.
“We are excited to give the students something to do. We want to reach out to the community,” Jordan said. “We want to draw new customers in with karaoke, and then they will have fun and enjoy the atmosphere. And most of my workers are students, and they’re pumped up!”
Jordan also hopes that his new customers will continue to come back.
With the new karaoke hype in the Valley, get a group of friends and experience the excitement for yourself by attending these next shows.
1054 S. 750 East, Orem
Wednesday 8 p.m. to midnight
45 E. Center St. Provo
Saturday 8-11 p.m.
Pizza Pie Cafe
2235 N. University Parkway, Provo
Tuesday 9 p.m.-midnight