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A Where2sing.com exclusive Karaoke Gig Review

Sherwood RSL karaoke venue review on www.where2sing.com

REVIEW: Simply the best?


In reviewing karaoke venues, I'm often critical of the way that hosts run their gigs - both in their organisation and in hosting style. And so a Tuesday night venue running in a suburb south of Brisbane caught my eye.

It was the name of the host that sparked my interest, for this was run by 'Simply The Best Karaoke'. Now surely this was going to be a misnomer?

Sherwood RSL is a modern suburban RSL in the suburb of Corinda (right next to Sherwood - makes sense, doesn't it), and about 15 minutes south of the Brisbane CBD. The RSL is actually on a side street, and I missed it the first time I drove by, but when I found it all lit up in bright blue neon lights I was surprised that I hadn't seen it glowing in the dark. I parked on the street right in front of the club.

Now, I thought you just signed yourself into these places as a guest, but on arriving at the front desk I found that I needed to be signed in by a member. Fortunately a group of three lads was next to me, including one called Matt, and who had apparently received his membership card only recently and was therefore keen to use his newfound status. Matt cheerfully volunteered to sign me in.

They disappeared upstairs, and I chatted to the lady who was taking a survey of members and guests, and I was therefore a couple of minutes behind the lads in getting to the upper level. But on arriving at the upstairs bar, I again found myself next to them as we ordered drinks. Everyone seemed really chatty, and there was a fair bit of lighthearted banter.

This main bar held the karaoke, and indeed it was already in progress. The Where2sing.com listing that had sparked my interest by showing the host as 'Simply The Best Karaoke' (subscriber only feature) had listed the starting time as 7:30, but when I'd phoned to check, the lady said it had started at 7pm tonight. As I was here to test 'the best', I ordered a light meal from the servery next to the bar, then took my beer to a vacant table near the front - right in front of the stage.

Now, I expected to start listing the host's shortcomings the moment I walked in the place, but so far I had none.

The approximately square room is filled with tables and chairs which are actually comfortable, and the bar and food servery are at the end of the room opposite that in which the karaoke is set up. The stage is a simple affair, big enough without being overly sized, and pushed hard against the back wall so there's no danger of falling off - and even a neat step at the front, carpeted the same as the stage. The singer's monitor is positioned on the proper stand and positioned just in front of the stage, and to the left and pointing across the stage is a good sized foldback speaker, plus two coloured lights throwing a broad pattern across and up at the singer and the ceiling. And the ceiling holds a few small white lights that effectively light the singer.

The host's console is set up to the right of the stage, and set facing across the room so that the lady techie is side-on to her audience. It looked a very neat affair, with tracks being run from a computer, but with an open disc box on the floor showing an admirable number of discs, and I think I could see a player or two on the desk and to the right of the lady techie. The mature male host, also well dressed, stood at another small console and facing the audience - and he was in charge of the mixing and actual hosting. The whole effect was of an extremely well organised operation. So far so good.

The sound was coming out of two fairly average sized, and not exactly new, speakers set high atop sturdy stands and placed one on the side of the stage next to the foldback, and the other just beyond the host's console. Both speakers were pushed back as close as possible to the wall, and although I was seated just in front of one, the sound was really nice and clear. Was it too loud? No, not bearing in mind that I was really just in front. Was it too treble, or bassy? No, it was just about right. Was the quality particularly good? No, I can't say I was immediately blown away by the quality, but there was absolutely nothing wrong with it, and it was set at a volume that was both loud enough for decent karaoke yet at a level which allowed people to talk.

The singers were very much as you'd expect for a suburban club, just the enthusiastic locals having a go, but none was dreadful, and they were all very listenable. I realised that the mix of vocals to backing track was being kept well adjusted, and from my position right in front of one speaker I would be a fairly critical judge. The host didn't really seem to do much twiddling of knobs, but he had good balance for both loud and quiet singers alike, and even the tracks were run at consistent volumes. These two were simply well organised - the lady had everything cued up, the host called and welcomed the next singer, kept up a friendly line of patter until the singer was ready, and then the song ran. Once we had a quick second of feedback followed by an immediate and sincere apology from the host, but otherwise the sound was run at a quite surprisingly steady volume.

The host's style was also well balanced, no over-the-top enthusiasm but also no laziness about it - just a professional and sufficient line of chat that eased every singer into his song, and helped him from the stage at its conclusion with the right amount of applause. He had a good repertoire of phrases, looked friendly and approachable, and even during the songs he stood facing the audience appearing relaxed and with a pleasant expression. These people were professionals.

It was time I found a song, and so I walked around the room until I was nearly at the other side of the stage, and asked a portly gentleman seated at a table by himself whether I might borrow his songbook. He indicated I might, but offered no words, and so I carried the book away to another table which had more light. The printing was quite small, but clear, with the song titles in bold print followed by the artist and other information in normal print. The layout meant that each entry often ran to two lines, but the effect was of a neatly presented list with all the information . . .(full story on where2sing.com)

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