Karaoke nights in Toronto by day of the week
Karaoke nights in Toronto are a wholly different animal than private karaoke rooms - the most obvious difference is the prospect of embarrassing yourself while trying to sing in front of a bar full of strangers vs. having a laugh singing badly with a group of your friends. While spots like Disgraceland, Parts & Labour, Unlovable, and The Steady inject karaoke into their calendars, tons of bars in the city offer a dedicated night (or nights) to singing, which attracts a dedicated following.
Here's a day-by-day guide to karaoke nights in Toronto.
The Old Sod (2936 Bloor St. West)
Host: Jeff Smith
Located in Etobicoke just outside Royal York Station, The Old Sod is the second-oldest Irish pub in the city. Karaoke starts at 10pm and is hosted by dedicated (30-year) industry veteran Jeff Smith, who keeps things running smoothly. Most importantly, he always ensures the sound quality is just right for every singer. Featuring a huge selection of songs, The Old Sod's karaoke night includes a lot of indie/alternative and British songs that many other places don't have. Regulars mostly frequent this pub, so it's a bit like Cheers (you know, where everybody knows your name), but with karaoke. Note: they also have a karaoke night on Tuesdays.
Also on Sundays
Toby's Pub and Eatery (411 College St.)
Host: Jason Rolland
Pass the Sneaky Dee's crowd at College and Bathurst and head east to Toby's for karaoke on Mondays. Host Jason Rolland is one of the better-known hosts in the city and maintains an up-to-date online catalogue of songs. He's also active on social media - participants can find high-quality photographic evidence of themselves singing posted on Facebook, just in case you don't recall belting out "I Will Survive" after three shots of tequila. The wireless mics may sacrifice the overall sound quality, but it works with the dancefloor-like stage setup, which also encourages audience participation. Drink-wise, Toby's has enticing specials for liquid courage, such as $11 mini-pitcher cocktails of your choice with three shots.
Also on Mondays
Baby Huey (70 Ossington Ave.)
Host: Richie Rich
The average karaoke patron at this Queen and Ossington spot will more than likely drunkenly sing choice cuts by mainstream artists like Adele and Big & Rich (whether these song choices are meant to be ironic or not is still up for debate). The bar itself is fairly small and Tuesday's karaoke night is more about the atmosphere and party-time environment than about scouting for future headliners at Massey Hall. They also use wireless mics here, allowing for less entanglement as the heap stirs about. The party starts at 10pm.
Also on Tuesdays
Hurricane's Roadhouse Restaurant (963 Bloor St. West)
Host: Shawn Meunier
Wednesday's karaoke nights at this Bloor and Dovercourt bar tend to be very well-attended with a loyal following. The smallish bar gets pretty full for karaoke, but host Shawn Meunier (voice of animated host 'Lion' on Kids' CBC) always manages to keep a fair rotation. Unlike some of the places that tend to attract a crowd of budding singers trying to find a way to work on their chops in a low-pressure environment, Hurricane's tends to be full of average (or less than average) but enthusiastic singers just looking to have a fun time. Drink prices are fairly reasonable.
Also on Wednesdays
The Monarch Tavern (12 Clinton St.)
Karaoke at The Monarch at College and Clinton usually takes place upstairs, but is moved downstairs occasionally. Host Steve-O previously worked together with Jeff Smith (The Old Sod), so they have a very similar selection featuring lots of alternative and British songs. This night seems to attract some rather eccentric singers, including a very elegant-looking woman who sings old standards like "Walkin' After Midnight" by Patsy Cline. The drink specials are highly affordable - $4 for singles of Jack Daniels or Jameson.
Also on Thursdays
The Office Pub (117 John St.)
Host: Master Jason
Located near St. Andrew Station, The Office Pub tends to attract a more mainstream crowd, especially on a Friday (karaoke starts at 9:30pm). They also host karaoke Wednesday through Saturday, with a dedicated karaoke section on their website. Unsurprisingly, Fridays tend to draw the largest attendance: if you're just looking to get out for a fun-filled night of karaoke with some friends and don't feel like booking a private room, this is a great place to try it out. Sound quality is average - it can be difficult to hear yourself when the bar is busy, but that tends to be a common problem at karaoke nights. Beer selection is fairly good and drinks are reasonably priced, especially for the area.
Also on Fridays
Spirits Bar & Grill (642 Church St.)
Host: Shawn Meunier
Also hosted by Shawn Meunier (does this guy ever sleep?), karaoke night at Spirits in Church Wellesley Village has many of the same positive aspects as Hurricane's. Given its central location on a Saturday night, Spirits' karaoke night tends to attract a very, ahem, spirited crowd - lots of energy and lots of enthusiasm, along with some excellent singers. As bars often do on karaoke nights, Spirit's has some decent drink specials on Saturdays - $4 Caesars, $4 Jameson, and $9 mini-pitchers of Moosehead.
Also on Saturdays
Writing by Wini Lo and Logan Rathbone. Photo via Hip Hop Karaoke on Facebook.
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