Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Karaoke Review: Good Tymez Pub w/ Robert Chorney

Reviewed: 2007-05-19

The Toronto Karaoke Meetup Group is slowly getting attention in the Toronto Area. Enough that I'm actually getting more information from the owners themselves which is good for all. The owner of Good Timez Cafe approached me with a possible place to bring the group. Approaching me in someone else's venue at a group meeting wasn't necessarily the best place and for future reference venue owners, I tend to frown on that for many reasons. Better to send me an e-mail. In future interruptions of a meeting at someone else's venue will be reported to them as its really uncool and disruptive. Email is the best way to get in touch. Referrals are even better. Nevertheless in good karaoke spirit I went to check the place out as the owner claimed his system was better than the traditional "PA" systems, implying that all other venues were not really good for karaoke. I have some skepticism on this but still one never knows. I invited the group out to evaluate the place as the owner was hoping to make his venue the "home" of the Toronto Karaoke Meetup Group.

The Good: When I checked out the system it was certainly superior to most systems I had seen in terms of sound quality. I have seen the equivalent but not often. Its hard to sound better on any system out there. First rate Fajitas were also reported on the food selection.

The Mixed:
Food prices weren't bad but weren't great either. Drink prices were above average

The Bad: There is an unusual twist to the selection here. Its Internet based. This is in my view a cheap way to get karaoke venue started in North America. Now the Japanese use a similar setup in their karaoke boxes but its a system designed for karaoke boxes and I believe it has a central server cache. The internet vendor here was "Eat Sleep Karaoke". The owner claimed 250k songs. Problem was some of the most seasoned veterans of my Karaoke group out found nothing in as many as 7 songs in a row, mostly alternative rock. The search system was flawed:By title didn't work properly at all (serious bug). There were no song books either (again cut costs on initial setup) and this increased confusion and many people watched found songs available at nearly every karaoke venue I'd been to unavailable in this system. It left the claim of 250k songs in serious doubt. The wait times were extraordinarily long given the small crowd. This is because the owner was acting as MC and he didn't really know how to search songs properly. The bugs and flaws on this Internet based system didn't help either. I felt this was more for home use than a profssional venue. The place is really just a bar ad can't hold more than 40 people tops and you won't be able to sit if you have more than 25. There is rumored to be a second floor available, but when it will be available and for whom is in question. To make matters worse, getting food in this place (if you want any) is a bit of a challenge. You'll probably have to go up to the bar to get any service in a reasonable amount of time because this is primarily a bar. To be more accurate a bar that serves as an Internet Cafe during the afternoon, and tries to be a karaoke bar on Friday and Saturday nights. It can't appear to decide what it want's to be so, it does the karaoke part awkwardly at best. Oh, no stage either. You are in the corner of the bar where few could see you. Given the configuration of the place its the best they could probably do. But its extremely awkward. You face the wall, not the audience when you sing as well.

Summary: Karaoke venue owners and wannabes, if you want to show a venue make sure you are ready. This is the second venue where the owner or manager didn't do their homework. If you want to be an MC make sure you are rehearsed and prepared. This venue is not what I would call a karaoke bar. I would call it a bar. And not a well decorated one at that. This place screamed seedy American bar which are typically an eyesore. What I saw here was an attempt to bring more business to a bar with limited attendance using its Internet Cafe facilities to try to be a karaoke venue. My group was unimpressed with the selection, the wait times or the configuration. The quality of the sound equipment was first rate but to quote one of the group members "is it worth it?". I'd have to say a big "no". 5-10 minute wait between songs is not acceptable. The internet based karaoke system is okay for the home, but not for a venue. When I say 5-10 minutes I mean 5-10 minutes of no singing at all. One customer was complaining loudly about this. Most of my group didn't want to stay after the first hour. The owner clearly didn't do his research into karaoke at all and thought a good sound processor and a sales spin would be a substitute for a quality MC, and quality song selection which is to say, purchase the songs and have them on site. Its a large investment to be a professionally acceptable karaoke venue. Short cuts like this internet based karaoke system don't cut it and an expensive sound system (cheap when compared to the prices of song royalties) isn't a substitute. If I had to choose between the claimed 250k songs here and the 600 songs at the Butterfly, I'd take the Butterfly for the simple reasons that at least I KNOW what they have, wait times are short, and there is a proper karaoke stage setup. There is a lot more to a good karaoke bar than a sound system: You need a system that guarantees fast song queueing and way of showing your audience what songs you ACTUALLY have. There is little more irritating than a selection guessing game. Karaoke Venue potentials need to do their research before they go public. A first impression is a lasting one. If its bad, it lasts even longer.

Facilities: 5.7(It looks and feels like a small seedy bar with a room for Internet Terminals seperated from the rest of the bar. No karaoke stage, karaoke equipment against the wall in a corner. One of the worst overall setups I've seen so far)
Equipment: 8.2 (Great sound for vocalists, but that is the beginning and end of this system. No real adjustment of the sound levels)
Selection 6.8 (Internet based, claims 250k but can't find the basics, too many gaps, no books to see what songs you have)
Food Selection: 7.0 (Basic Bar food with some Tex-Mex thrown in)
Food Quality: 7.8 (Fajitas were quite good, rest was average)
Prices: 6.7 (drink prices were above average, food was about average pricing, but most expensive French Onion Soup I've seen anywhere)
Location: 7.5 (5 minutes from Dundas Subway station. Parking around but have been warned you may not want to leave car around this area)
Host: 6.0 (The owner didn't know how to operate the Internet based karaoke system properly. Felt he was entertaining himself more than the group)
Service: 6.5 ( Basic service, food you'll probably have to step up to the bar. The good news is the place is so small you won't have far to go)

Final Grade: D+

Venue Information:
Good Tymez Pub
117 Dundas Street East
Toronto, ON
(416) 916-2156
Friday & Saturdays
10:30 PM - 2 AM

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At 9:47 PM, Blogger CAROLINE said...

Hi Jonah, I just found your blog and it is quite helpful. Wondered if I could ask a question of you and the others, I'm relatively new at the karaoke scene in Toronto. Actually wanted to rent a private room somewhere with a large capacity (50 or so) for my birthday party. Can you recommend a good place to do that that is a handy location and has good overall amenities? Any information gratefully received. You can email me at carolinefromcanada@yahoo.ca



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