Thursday, June 09, 2005

Toronto Karaoke Review: Shoeless Joe's Restaurant Bar

Shoeless Joe's is first and foremost a sports bar catered to the fans of sports and Toronto "jocks". Arrays of TVs with dedicated sports channels (and their occasional advertisements for rated "xxx" channels) guarantee that everyone can watch the popular sport of their choice while grabbing a beer. Can it make the cut as a cool Karaoke bar on Fridays? That is the question here.

The Good: The location is fairly convenient. A trip down a street car on King street will get you there in excellent time and is near a number of restaurants. There is parking both paid and unpaid on side streets.

The MC himself wasn't bad. A little calm during the first half but the second half of the show had a lot more energy. One unique twist that I'm giving bonus points for is something called "Kamikaze Karaoke" where new people are randomly chosen to sing a random song and given a t-shirt. It is the most original way of getting new comers involved I've ever seen and if you have shy people this is a good place to bring them.

The karaoke had some good things going for it. The selection was decent with around 4000 songs although the modern selections were a little weak.

The food selection was decent: Gourmet Angus burgers, wide variety of sandwiches, seafood dishes and some Cajun selections give a fairly exotic touch and should be enough to please most people. Prices are about average as bars/clubs go. Service was VERY fast and attentive.

The Mixed: The equipment was okay but the wired mixes were somewhat aged with a few dents and sound was a little dull (heavy bass). The sound would distort if the singer got a excessively loud. Any system would but I've heard some systems handle the overaggressive "singer" a little better. Overall the sound was decent. There was a single 15" monitor for subtitles. It works but if the space were available an extra screen would be good. The mike stand occasionally had to be rebuilt by the MC when adjusted.

The wait times were average. In my view they could have been better because the MC took an unusual amount of time to call new singers and find songs. In one case one person went up right after he was in a duet. It may have been an oversight but this generally isn't good form and would irritate audiences if the crowd were larger.

The bad: The only bad thing about this venue was the layout which the MC unfortunately cannot control. With the Karaoke stage being 10 feet from the bar there were few tables with convenient access to the stage and few people could even see the stage very well. The layout of the bar just didn't work well for a central stage format.

Summary: Petto's Karaoke at Shoeless Joe's is a decent event with only a few drawback, the biggest of which would be solved by doing the venue at facilities with a more natural stage layout. Its an excellent place for new/shy karaoke participants with "Kamakazee Karaoke". More karaoke places should do something like this. With decent food and a good selection its a good place for just about everyone looking for some old fashion karaoke fun.

Summary Scores:
Facilities: 7
Equipment: 7.5
Location: 7.5
Song Selection: 7.5
Wait Time: 7 (scaled for public venue)
Host: 7.5
Food Prices: 7.0
Food Selection: 7.5
Food Quality: 8.0

Final Grade: C+

Venue Information:
Friday's: 9:30 PM to 2 AM
Shoeless Joe's Bar
Phone: 416-596-2171
401 King Street West
Toronto, ON