Last night Studio B hosted New York mag’s third NYxNY Indie Rock Karaoke jam. Following in the steps of previous installments with of Montreal and the Thermals, this one featured Ted Leo + RX, with emceeing duties falling to the joyful Andrew W.K. As usual, it was memorable: Ted delivered a fun, full set of his principled punk shots and tried out four promising new tunes (including one he described as “blackmetal dancehall,” adding “my life is now complete”), but the night really took off when we shifted into karaoke mode. The combination of Ted and Andrew’s charismatic, celebratory shenanigans was positively combustible. But still, I’ve been trying to figure out what it is about these karaoke sets that make them such a great time.

For one, it helps when you have a band like the Pharmacists, and a band leader like Ted Leo. Ted’s one of those guys — positive, whipsmart, talented — who engenders instant love, regardless of how well you know his material. He’s a lover of covers, a lover of people and politics, and so a perfect ringleader for what is essentially a democratic, DIY celebration of great, bygone music. If you didn’t know the song, Ted was there to bail you out (but seriously, know the songs, guys). If you did, Ted paid you back in hugs. After each tune last night Ted collected his props from the departing karaoke singer then rushed over to the setlist, visibly psyched and beaming to dig into the next tune. When you have a band as enthusiastic (and surprisingly versatile — “Reelin’ In The Years” came off with as much charm as “Minor Threat”) as the Pharamacists pulling the strings, the stage is set.

Not everyone was great. (“Dancing With Myself” was particularly a disaster, why would you take up a coveted slot to sing a song you don’t know? Said Ted diplomatically: “At least they got the ’Sweat!’ part right.”) But that element of surprise, the inability to predict who’ll truly engage with the song and who will make a mockery of the opportunity, makes the room explode when someone actually does the material justice with their familiarity and talent. Hat tip to the kid who did the Outfield’s “Your Love” (which I’ve been listening to all day), to the guy nailing Iggy’s shirtless contorting on “Search And Destroy,” the “Minor Threat” man (Ted was in love with that guy), and especially the woman who fawned over Andrew’s good looks and “backwards aging” before crushing it on Aretha’s “Respect.” A few lucky kids got to sing Ted Leo songs with RX backing them (“Where Have All The Rude Boys Gone,” “Me And Mia,” and a girl named Colleen singing, well, this). The girl doing the Boss’s “Dancing In The Dark” didn’t deliver the strongest performance, but when she called up a guy to play the night’s Courtney Cox, I felt a little closer to the Reagan years. In a good way.

Here’s the list of songs Ted played for the karaoke portion, and click on for a full spread of pics from photog Santiago Felipe.




Comments (21)
  1. that shirtless dude is crazy sexy. hot.

  2. faye  |   Posted on Dec 4th, 2008 0

    OMG! I look hilarious!

  3. John Nap  |   Posted on Dec 4th, 2008 0

    Last night was a blast. Let’s hope TL/RX do this again soon, with or without NYMagazine’s prompting, cause there were a whole lot of folks who wanted to get up there, but weren’t able to (myself included)

  4. that big dude can get up there!

  5. Sal C.  |   Posted on Dec 4th, 2008 0

    I am desperately seeking a photo of my friend John singing ?Reelin? in the Years? at last night?s karaoke fest. If anyone has one, or finds one online, please post some info here. PLEASE!
    Much obliged.

  6. Philip  |   Posted on Dec 4th, 2008 0

    Love is a battlefield, dammit. And so is the floor at work which I will poop on for some late noon office laughs until my boss catches me with a sock in my hand wiping poop off my junk but I accidentally get some on my hand. Captain America, bitch.

  7. fortunate son  |   Posted on Dec 4th, 2008 0

    hey amrit…i was one of the karaokers last night…and my camera memory card was full when i sang and my punkass boyfriend couldn’t figure out how to delete things. it would absolutely make my day if you could email and we see if you have any pics of my performance. :)

    • I’m checking with our photog on the night, Santi. I think he submitted all his karaoke shots, but if there are some left unpublished I will let you know. (Good job up there btw!)

  8. hot shit  |   Posted on Dec 4th, 2008 0


  9. This was so much fun…want to do it more that once a year, Live Band Karaoke enthusiasts?…come check out Bunnie England tonight at Ottos Shrunken Head: http://www.myspace.com/bunnieengland

  10. Ted Leo is awesome, I’m really just curious as to what W.K. sang.


  11. Adam  |   Posted on Dec 5th, 2008 0

    Which song did “Aquaman” do? Hope it was “transmission”…Can’t believe I missed this AGAIN!

  12. Aquaman killed last year when he did Moonage Daydream.

  13. Scott  |   Posted on Dec 5th, 2008 0

    Aquaman did “Where Eagles Dare” by the Misfits, and totally killed it. In the good way. Whole crowd chanting along with “I ain’t no goddamn sonofabitch!” I had to split after that – end the evening on a high note.

  14. Anonymous  |   Posted on Dec 5th, 2008 0

    Chec out http://www.nickydigital.com for a whole bunch of the event pics…

  15. Anonymous  |   Posted on Dec 8th, 2008 0

    Anyone know the name of the four (five?) new songs Ted did? He kept introducing them as “here’s another new song…” but never supplied any titles.

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