Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Karaoke Review: The Groundhog Pub, with substitute MC, Allan Sochan for Canadian Karaoke

This is a rather original review because the MC is not a regular at the venue performed. A group I organize, the Toronto Karaoke Meetup Group their usual meeting at the Groundhog Pub scheduled for September 1st. It came to my attention the day before that Jeff of Big City Services (see review) was out of town that weekend. Fortunately for us, management at the Groundhog Pub agreed to get a last minute substitute. As the organizer of the Toronto Karaoke Meetup group I'd like to acknowledge the efforts of the Groundhog Pub and Jimmy (employee) for his efforts. The additional benefit for all of us here is we get a review of a new MC: Allan Sochan, owner of the karaoke hosting company, Canadian Karaoke. I've had to make special adjustments to the scoring for this review because he was only given a few hours notices to get everything together and I'd also like to recognize exceptional efforts under stressful condition. Without further ado, let's review:

I already wrote a review of the Groundhog Pub as a venue so I'll forego repetition on the venue and concentrate on the MC.

The good: Allan keeps a very upbeat mood. Although not quite the comedy level Peter Styles or Jeff of Big City Music Services (and this was a new environment for him, Allan kept people interested and applauding the participants (one of Peter's great strengths, especially with sign he keeps). He made sure people were putting in requests. Allan was actually more active in ensuring everyone got their selections in by repeatedly visiting tables even though he already had a good list going. As an MC there is very little I could fault him on: excellent personality and very attentive both with people and with Mic levels. Mikes, speakers and mixers were excellent and Allan even added the bonus of using echo levels more effectively than any other MC I've see to date. (new category for best effects application in karaoke?).

The Bad: There was one weakness that caught my attention: The time he sometimes took to que up songs a little longer than most and he would sometimes talk to cover for the time it was taking. (His system by the way was on an iBook which from personal experience I can say is a wonderful machine) That was really his only weakness as an MC. The other weakness that stood out was the monitor: The size was okay, but it was far too low. Some people actually got chairs so they could properly read the text. With a different stand it would make a big different as its very hard to sing properly sitting down. These were the only real faults I can give.

The Mixed The selection was fair:~6000 songs. No one was unhappy with the selection (especially given the time to get things together). It was a decent collection of songs and the strongest TV Theme collection I've seen. Unfortunately it was slightly weak in the modern collections but Jeff of Big City Music is so far the one public MC with the wideest selection (13,000+) I've seen personally so far.

Summary: Allan is a very solid MC and with minor improvements to his equipment and song queing, he could be serious competition for Jeff of Big City Music Services and Peter Styles. Unfortunately (for us) Allan confessed to me he doesn't do a lot of MC'ing as he owns the company. Our loss in my opinon but would make a good mentor, especially since he is currently looking for dynamic guys and gals to work for him as an MC. So if anyone is interested in a part time career hosting karaoke events, send Allan an e-mail through his website at http://www.canadiankaraoke.com. Thanks again Allan for a great job at the last minute. (Now I'm curious how he'd to with a week's notice...)

Summary Scores:
Facilities: 7.5 (Have to squeeze through people if its really crowded)
Equipment: 8.6 (in top shape, but I had to take off points for the low monitor, but great sound. If you sound bad don't blame the MC, gave bonus points for excellent use of echo effect)
Location: 8 (plenty of PAID parking available and some unpaid. across the street from Sherbourne Subway, )
Song Selection: 7.0 (6000 songs, little weak in the modern selectios but fantastic selection of TV Themes from the 70-80s)
Wait Time: 7.0 (About Average, but this was due to the queing times of the MC)
Host: 8.7 (Keeps people interested in him and each other, Allan's friendly light humor keeps you grinning, really attentive with adjusting mic levels, his use of echo is the most effective I've seen)
Food Prices: 7.5 (Slightly better than average)
Food Selection: 7.0 (Decent Pub food with a touch of Greek.)
Food Quality: 7.7 (Mostly quite good. The Pub food is better than the Greek)
Services: 8.0 (Mostly good. Minor lapses but staff is generally very attentive)

Final Grade: B+(MC grade). Combined grade with Venue, B

Venue Information:
401 Bloor Street East
Toronto, ON
Phone: (416) 975-1867
Fax : (416) 975 - 9252
Fridays & Saturdays 10 PM - 2 AM

Canadian Karaoke Company Info: http://www.canadiankaraoke.com,
(416) POP-TUNE