Karaoke Review: Philthy McNasty's with MC, Tim for Canadian Karaoke
Review on October 4th, 2006
I'd seen this place show Karaoke on Monday nights, but when I tried to go I was told it was changed to Tuesdays. Apparently this was done to get a popular DJ in for one night. Don't know the details, but they finally got a solid commitment to Tuesdays so I went in to check the place out. Passing the place many times on my way to clients it always looked a little seedy from the outside but was hopeful that when I got in things would appear in a different light.
The good: I generally need things to have a 7.5 or higher to be in the "good" category. Canadian Karaoke is usually able to get an MC or Equipment up to that level. The only thing I could put in here for this evening's performance was the wait time (they are getting better song change times it unfortunately that was it this round. The food selection of the bar was fairly good: Lots of Pastas, Sandwiches, Nachos, Pizzas and even Jambalayas and stir fries. For a sports bar, the food selection was certainly well above average.
The Bad: Some of the things from other Canadian Karaoke reviews still apply but as I said before the wait times were better in terms of changing songs. The guy could do it in 2-3 minutes average and that helps. Unfortunately too many things were going wrong. Aside from a group of < 12 people (you could do a lot songs in obviously) the initial sound levels were not good: Sound was tinny and music was overpowering until around 1.5 hours later when I guess the MC realized the sound problem. A multi-colored globe above the singing area was annoyingly loud creating a real distraction and I suggested several times it be turned off. The monitor was again too low (see previous reviews for Canadian karaoke venues). I strongly suggest getting a portable LCD monitor and a different stand. This has been used with great success and isn't as likely to break if knocked over). The one of the songs I generally do "Give a little bit" I had to do from memory because the video didn't work for that particular song. This was a first for me and I wouldn't have imagined it possible, but there are some issues with these computer based systems and I guess the video files (mpeg's?) can get corrupted. All the other songs were fine but this is extremely embarrassing for a karaoke company. The lighting in the place was a bit harsh and the bar area had a seedy look to it. Too many TV's made the lighting even harsher and often created unwanted distractions. The worst part of all was the food service. Karaoke is held in the bar area and I guess the waitress felt that getting any real food was an inconvenience. I had to go to her for any service (in every other pub/bar I've been to people would come by and ask if I wanted anything). When I did get the menu and placed my order (again had to go to the bar), I was served a chicken sandwich with fries, but no napkin or condiments. This is completely unacceptable in the food service industry. I had to find condiments and napkins from a far off table. Obviously I wasn't giving any tips that evening. To restaurant managers: If you are claiming to serve food, make sure your staff serves it properly, regardless of the setting, or whether they have friends there. (This waitress seemed more interested in talking with her pals rather than looking after her customers). Even if the place looks fairly empty (which it was) that is no reason for leaving even one paying customer without proper service. Highly visible upper bodies don't win points with me, sports bar or otherwise.
The Mixed: Canadian Karaoke is still on the level of ~6000 songs. Prices of the food were a bit on the high side (especially for the service you get). The MC, Tim, appeared to be quite new and getting to know the ropes. He has a great voice for radio (most women would consider him good looking as well), a strong singer and tried to keep the crowd he had involved. While I say it tried he was often unsuccessful or awkward. People like Peter Styles, Pete Rockwell and Jeff Zedic (Big City Music Karaoke) have enough trivia or subject matter they can play part time comedian. Sometime its needed, especially with weak crowds. Also felt he could have interacted with people more at the beginning of the show but he did make attempts with the front table later. Back tables (where were a few people there for awhile) were neglected entirely. They did seem more interested some conversation but I've seen MC's spark interest in seemingly disinterested parties in the past. In know its a lot of work and I'm not sure I have the talent to do what my favorite MC's do with crowds. Hopefully Tim and other Canadian Karaoke MC's can get more tips from their boss Allan, who does this fairly well.
Summary: Philthy McNasty's was a great disappointment to me as a venue. And maybe that brings out the weaker aspects of a Karaoke MC/Company. While I was assured many Tuesday nights had been packed, I had trouble believing it with the quality of service and food prices. The food prices were high but not horribly so. The service I experienced was completely unprofessional and wouldn't quality as service. I've had better service eating at friends where service is not expected from me. Tim as an MC I guess just needs a bit more experience but the fact a song video wasn't working and the MC wasn't aware of it doesn't look good. It may have been a one time thing which hopefully will not reoccur. The atmosphere was seedy with no redeeming qualities I could see and the karaoke area was awkward because of rows of high chairs/tables that made it difficult to see participants. The harsh lighting and excessive TV's didn't help either. I'd prefer to see Tim and Canadian Karaoke in a different venue with better service, better layout, lighting and food prices all around.
Facilities: 6.5 Rows of high tables/chairs, harsh lighting and too many TV's. The whole place looked "McNasty's" as a karaoke area: Seedy bar atmosphere.
Equipment: 7.0 (in good shape, but I had to take off points for low monitor, buggy lyric videos and poor initial balance. The noisy non-spining globe didn't help either.)
Location: 7.5 (plenty of expensive paid parking available in streets and parking garages. Can take subway to St. Andrew and walk 10 minutes or get a streetcar.
Song Selection: 7.0 (6000 songs, little weak in the modern selections but fantastic selection of TV Themes from the 70-80s)
Wait Time: 8.5 (The song change times are getting better. Small crowd didn't hurt either ;-))
Host: 7.2 (A little green, but has a good voice may do better with time)
Food Prices: 6.5 (A bit on the high side)
Food Selection: 8.3 (Fairly extensive selection for a sports bar)
Food Quality: 7.0 (Fairly good, but nothing to "sing" about)
Services: 5.0 (Completely unacceptable level of food service. I consider a 5 a gift. The manager is needs to have a chat with his/her bar staff)
Note: Apparently they have a variation of Karaoke with a live band on Thursdays. I may check it out bearing in mind I may be getting my own silverware if service was anything like I had this evening.
Final Grade: C-
275 King Street West (St. Andrew's Subway)
Tuesdays 10 PM - 2 AM
Canadian Karaoke Company Info: http://www.canadiankaraoke.com,