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Monday Night Rock & Roll Karaoke at Arlene's Grocery

Monday Night Rock & Roll Karaoke at Arlene's Grocery

The bar lights dim, exciting an already anxious crowd. A disembodied voice booms from the PA system, welcoming the audience and reciting “The Ten Commandments”.

Their first Commandment? “Thou Shalt Seek Only to Rock!”

This isn’t a rock concert, per se. Nor is it typical karaoke, where your only backup comes from a tinny machine and the hearty laughter of your friends. Welcome to Live Rock and Roll Karaoke at Arlene’s Grocery (95 Stanton Street, between Ludlow and Orchard Streets, 212-995-1652), where every Monday night at 10 p.m., amateur singers, Lower East Side hipsters and drunken partiers alike can choose from a list of over 200 rock classics, then mount the stage to front a live band. Because anyone can be a rock god – at least for one song.

“It’s more than just going to see a band,” said Paul McGilloway, lead guitarist for the Arlene’s Grocery Monday Night Rock and Roll Karaoke Band. “You can participate. And we want everyone to leave the stage feeling like they’re a rock star, like they did a good job.”

“We like to bring it out in people,” added drummer Mark Marone.

But Arlene’s Grocery isn’t the only place to live out your rock and roll fantasies on stage. Here are some other venues where you can rock out with the band:

Live Band Kuntry Karaoke
If you prefer the Man in Black instead of “Back In Black,” Rob Ryan and the Brooklyn Kuntry All-Star Band hosts country music-making every Monday night at Hank’s Saloon. They’ll back you up as you yodel and howl your favorite tunes by Willie, Johnny, Hank, Dolly and all your other country and southern rock favorites. Get there early for free BBQ, and anyone brave enough to step up and sing even gets a free “shot of courage” (that is, Jack Daniels). The show starts at 9 p.m. and ends “when the police break up the party.” (Hank’s Saloon, 46 Third Avenue, at Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-625-8003)

Crash Course Karaoke
Sunday nights at 8pm, head to the Village for your turn at rock stardom. Blending classic rock hits with ’80s kitsch and karaoke standards, the extensive Crash Course song list is sure to lure you to the stage — at least after you’ve knocked back a few. (Kenny’s Castaways, 157 Bleecker Street, between Thompson and Sullivan Streets, 212-979-9762)

Human Karaoke Experience
The Experience boasts the largest song selection of any live karaoke band, with more than 450 songs. Rather than confine themselves to one bar, they’ve taken their show all over the city in the past few years. In the coming months, join them at either O’Flanagan’s or Woodhaven House (63-98 Woodhaven Blvd, Queens, 718-894-5400), or even book the band for a private party. Shows generally start at 9 p.m., but check out for the full schedule. (O’Flanagan’s, 1215 First Avenue, between 65th and 66th Streets, 212-439-0660)

Original Punk Rock/Heavy Metal Karaoke Band
Perhaps the greatest rival to Arlene’s Grocery is this karaoke band, which has been rocking New York like a hurricane for nearly a decade at venues like the Mercury Lounge, the Canal Room, Lit, Crash Mansion, Fat Baby, the Delancey and the Luna Lounge. This might be the only band that plays Bad Brains and Pat Benatar songs in the same night, so don’t miss this one-of-a-kind rock and roll experience. (Club Midway, 25 Avenue B, 212-253-2595)

This article was published in the August 3-5, 2007 weekend issue of amNewYork.