I’m not going to lie – I am a karaoke aficionado. Back in Austin, TX I hosted karaoke every week (mainly so that I could cut the line whenever I wanted) and I invented something called Tazeroke.
I knew that they loved karaoke in Japan, so I was pumped to sing when I arrived here. However, after a trying conversation with the girl behind the desk of a karaoke establishment, I had a shocking realization.
All of the karaoke here is in private rooms.
There are no karaoke bars with stages and random patrons to bask in your superstar glory. And for us Westerners, that’s what karaoke is all about – being a rock star for three and a half minutes.
Some research revealed one exception to this national rule. In Roppongi, on the third floor of a building tucked away on a little side street there is a place called “Fiesta.” You’d never find it if you didn’t know it was there.
Last night my friend Todd and I had the honor of being guests of Shintaro Mimura, the director of Fiesta. And let me tell you – this is karaoke at its finest.
Most karaoke bars in the US are regular bars with karaoke as an afterthought. Not Fiesta. Mr. Mimura is a die-hard karaoke lover and it shows.
The room has a three big seating areas, all with good views of the small stage in the corner. The stage has a full lighting rig, three microphones, and monitor speakers. The system itself is connected to the internet and automatically downloads new songs as they come out. The sound system is fantastic.
The best part of Fiesta may be the crowd. It’s largely regulars and they stand up and sing along with every song they know. Most of the singers are good enough that they’re actually fun to listen to – especially Mr. Mimura. If you go, make sure you ask him to sing some Beastie Boys. I’ve heard a lot of people try to sing the Beastie Boys, and he blew them all away.
To find your way to Fiesta, check out their website at www.fiesta-roppongi.com. I’ll be back there on Saturday, March 29, so if you’re in Tokyo come down and sing with me.