Okay, so technically that’s not the exact title for what I’m sure is everyone’s favorite ’80s tune, “Livin’ In A Box.” What a great, if abbreviated, time we had Friday night at the Rock Box, Seattle’s premiere Japanese-style karaoke bar on Capitol Hill.
The format of your experience at the Rock Box is, no doubt, a bit different from your standard karaoke night down at the local dive bar. In true Japanese-style karaoke format, guests pay $7 per person, per hour for the exclusive rights to their own private room and karaoke system. Depending on the room, accommodations can get pretty tight. With around 10 people, our room just happened to fit into that category (which, as it turns out, only enhanced the experience). As usual, our friend Dave was only too willing to get the show off the ground with a tune I only wish I could remember. It was hilarious.
It was definitely a new experience to be cramped SO CLOSE to the audience (aka “my friends”) while belting out a song. It was really fun and intimate in the way that if you’re going to sing there’s nowhere to hide. In a bar you can usually sit in your chair while you sing or stick yourself in a corner where, though your voice goes everywhere, you can maintain your little cocoon. Not at the Rock Box. Here, you’re standing or sitting front and center.
When it came to service, the waitress always seemed to be there when you needed her, ready to get your next beverage. In this case, drinks include saki along with japanese beer and cocktails. If you’re hungry, there’s a food menu designed by Ryan Roadhouse, the executive chef of Masu in Portland. The karaoke system itself was pretty fun to learn. Not complicated, it features an iPad-type of template to search for the right song or artist. Once you select the song, just hit send and you’re lined up in order of entry.
I suppose the only drawback I could conjure up was the $7 per person rate per hour. Add drinks and one might drop a fair amount of money. Now I don’t really see this as a deal-breaker, so I’ll leave that factor up to you.
It could go without saying if you want to have the best possible time, I recommend going to the Rock Box with friends who enjoy the act of singing in front of others; at least a couple people who can get the group to participate. It gets a little flavorless when you’re the only one who is comfortable behind the mic. That wasn’t an issue with the group I was with Friday night. Aside from the aforementioned Dave, my fellow musical heartbreakers included Jess and Darrah. They were all outgoing, fun, and thoroughly entertaining. There was plenty of fun to go around, and they were never afraid to take the mic and sing as though nothing else mattered. I certainly did when I sang Rod Stewart’s “Love Touch” and Darrah calmly said I was forevermore “creepy.” Meh, goes with the territory.
If you’re up for a different kind of karaoke experience in Seattle, I highly recommend checking the Rock Box, located at1603 Nagle Place on Capitol Hill, right behind the building facing the Jimi Hendrix statue on Broadway. Let me know if and when you’re going, I’ll see you there!