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From the Where2sing.com stories:
The Great Karaoke Escape 2004/05

Day 20

I like Brisbane. The city area is quite small and easy to navigate, and it's modern and clean. The centre is laid out on a sort of grid system, and at night a $5 taxi ride will get you easily from one karaoke venue to the next is you're you're not inclined to walk. And, if you out of the main city area, you'll find plenty of karaoke venues close to you.

You've got two distinct areas of the city - the area called Fortitude Valley and named after one of the early ships (Fortitude), and the main city area that developed later. It takes only about ten minutes to walk between the two, and during the day you can even walk along the river and admire the view. But at night it's often easier to jump in a cab for the two minute ride.

When I first came to Brisbane, over twenty years ago, they were just starting to dig up the road at its centre in preparation for making a mall. Now the mall is the main feature of the city centre, and many of the popular night time pubs are in the streets surrounding the mall. But Brisbane is not a town with a huge population, and pubs come and go quite frequently, changing their name and decoration in an attempt to keep their patrons interested. One of the best known city pubs for karaoke is the Calton Crest Redford's bar in which karaoke runs three nights a week, and you'll find a fairly mixed but older crowd there.

In Sydney, I'd noticed that most karaoke venues attract a crowd of all ages, but it's different in Brisbane. There are, indeed, the traditional places that draw the older crowd, and in which you'll find laid-back karaoke, pleasant sound, good songlists, and people sitting around ready to applaud, but in the some suburbs you'll find karaoke definitely aimed at the younger market.

I'm not sure if this is because the karaoke is run in places that already attract a younger clientele, or whether the karaoke itself is aimed at the youngsters. But I've found that these places are characterised by loud sound, some truly superb young singers and some very new songs, but almost no applause. I've also noticed that, in these places, cheap drinks seem to fuel a very rowdy audience that prefers to dance, and that karaoke is just a side attraction that holds little real interest for the true karaoke devotee.

Then there are the places that fall in-between, like Casablanca on the corner of Caxton Street in Petrie Terrace at the top end of the city, and in which you can find both young and old, and a wide variance of singing quality. And the main attraction of this place is that it runs karaoke almost every night of the week, and sometimes until very nearly daylight.

But there is one place that stands out in the W2S list for a Tuesday that I want to go and see - it's PJ O'Briens Irish Pub in Charlotte Street in the city.

A while back I went to the Victory Hotel, a pub that's fairly close and which has been running karaoke for some time with great success. This place is filled with youngsters, and indeed seeks to attract them with cheap drinks, and I presume that O'Briens is after the same young market. But, whilst the Victory is a well-established and extensive pub, and highly visible on a corner, O'Briens is tucked into an older building further down the road, and easy to miss.

But this is Brisbane, and not the sor of place in which a brand new hostelry is going to suddenly spring up, so I'm pretty sure that when I find this place that it is just going to be a new name. And it is.

It's a dark doorway in an old building, and one you'd likely miss in daylight. But at night time there's little else happening in the vicinity, so it's easy to spot. I'm even able to park close by, and as I walk in, I'm surprised to see very few people. But as I stand waiting to be served at the bar that is only a small way inside the room, I can hear karaoke-type music coming from further inside the building. It sounds good, and even the singing sounds great. I take my drink and relish the possibility of a great karaoke spot filled with younger people singing modern songs, and I am unphased by having to pass through yet another fake Irish pub entrance to get into the far bar. (The review of PJ O'Briens is already on the site).

Read more singers' stories, and write your own karaoke story, on Where2sing.com . . .

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