DeKalb’s karaoke scene gives locals the spotlight

Karaoke-er: Marilyn Lorch, vocal powerhouse. Songs of Choice: Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams” and Blondie’s “One Way Or Another.” Why She’s Rockin’ It: “‘Dreams’ is one of my favorite songs ever, and the other choice is just a little faster and more fun.”

Sarah Contreras

Contemplating new ways to have fun can be rough. Not that there aren’t an abundance of fabulous watering holes and gathering places in our dear city; it’s just, if you’re anything like me, you sometimes simply crave a break from the usual. But when someone says, “Let’s karaoke!” you probably grimace. Let’s face it, Huskies: The prospect of a “karaoke night” can seem, well, a bit tired. I mean, really, how much variance can you expect? Terribly produced backing tracks, off-key singers, weird Lost in

Translation melancholia. That doesn’t sound too exciting to a person looking to hit the town. Thankfully, both Otto’s Nightclub, 118 E. Lincoln Highway and Starbusters Sports Bar and Nightclub, 930 Pappas Drive, have managed to put fun spins on the conventional karaoke outing.

For those who wish to party like rock stars on Thursday nights, Otto’s presents “Live Band Karaoke.” That’s right, you can sing your heart out onstage while a three-piece rock band accompanies you. This weekly event draws a diverse crowd of students, alumni and locals who love to strut their stuff. The obliging band, Since I Was 3, provides numerous song and lyric choices ranging anywhere from Patsy Cline to Mr. Big. Any wannabe celebrity is sure to find something to suit his or her taste. Combine that with some enticing drink specials and you’ve got a party.

“My friends and I have been coming to Otto’s for several years,” said graduate student Sarah Miller. “This is a fun and interesting twist to our usual Thursday nights.”

If a bass-slapping background isn’t your style, Starbusters offers up one night of fame and adoration with weekly “Karaoke Wednesdays.” A time-honored tradition for students, ‘Busters often draws a packed house of eager-to-shine singers. Participants are provided with a panoply of current and old favorites – those not in the spotlight can sing along with lyrics flashing on multiple screens across the venue.

“It’s a fun night because everybody requests songs they like,” said Starbusters General Manager Kevin Pratt. “They hear what they want to hear, and it’s a great time. Some people are quite good singers, and others are just there to have fun and have people sing along with them…the last song is always ‘Sweet Caroline,’ and 400 people are singing and swaying their arms.”