Karaoke Review: Joe Mercury's w/ Ty
I've been hearing about this place for sometime but as my schedule has been crazy it often becomes difficult to get out the east and west ends of Toronto. This year I've made it a point venture out into new territory. Its been a positive experience so far with discoveries of exceptional karaoke talent (see review on Peel Pub on O'Conner). My hope was to find another. Its with mixed feelings I write this because while to paraphrase a song, "I've found what I'm looking for" but it may not be long for this world.
The Good: Twice in 2 weeks the big thing here is the MC. Big time! We have another amazing host who balances showmanship, audience interaction, style and humor with masterful success. He seems to interact particularly well with the younger crowd but older people still get their "kicks" on his stage. I'm presently kicking myself for not checking out this venue earlier. Even more so as this is the only gig he does at least for Karaoke. You WILL be engaged by this fellow and you'll enjoy it. Ty really pays attention to his sound and it shows. Balance is really good. The food selection here is also fairly exceptional partially because the primary food here is Greek but they have all the proper bar/pub favorites as well so even if you aren't a Greek food fan, you'll still find plenty you'll enjoy. ("Beware of Greeks wearing Sneakers" is a catchy phrase they use on their menu). The layout of seat swas also exceptional and it gave a family restaurant meets pub kind of feel which strongly reminded me of Hollywood on the Queensways, which by far has the best layout for Karaoke shows anywhere. The food is overall very good. Food prices are also better than average especially considering the portions are quite large. Location is hard to beat if you live in the Dundas West/Bloor area as this venue is nearly on top of Dundas West station and there is some free parking available. You have a decent stage, a good sized dancing area as well. If you want to play pool, 3 tables are available, all in excellent condition (some places the pool tables are quote worn). Ty's song selection is well spread, books amazingly organized (and example for other MC's as he is actually able to have both by author and song title in the same book. Few MC's are this organized or courteous so kudos for that. The song selection is overall good at 6600 songs (better than Katie Appleton or Erika) but a tad short of the ideal. Still there is enough for all tastes and styles across all the major karaoke genres. (Note there is a sweet spot for 70-90's which for me is a real pleasure)
The Mixed: There are a few spots here and there I should mention. First, while the balance in excellent, the sound on the mikes felt a little dry for some reason. You need to have the mix fairly close to you to make sure its getting your voice. This could be a minor adjust as Ty is clearly changing levels to suit individual singers which any karaoke fan will appreciate. The monitor is a bit low and you have bend your neck to see the lyrics properly. Ideally monitors should be placed so that its more like a teleprompter so you can see your audience. Since this stage actually faces the audience (a good thing) you feel the monitor's placement even more. Service is not as prompt as many places I've reviewed. Its still okay, but staff could be a little more attentive.
The Bad: Yea! There is nothing really bad here.
Summary: This is a quality venue which has a history. The big reasons I'm kicking myself on the rear end for not seeing this place sooner as its scheduled to close around July 28th, 2007 and the building demolished near the end of the summer! I spoke to Ty on this and he is looking for a gig to do after July 28th. I strongly suggest you experience this place for yourself before the venue closes down. Fortunately with karaoke running Thursdays to Saturdays, if you move quickly there is time. Ty is an MC to watch and is in strong contention for Karaoke MC of the year. It would love to think that Joe Mercury's, a place of considerable taste, food and humorous theme, would simply relocate and be able to preserve its layout and theme, but I've heard nothing of the sort so I suspect that is unlikely. I'll try to find out later. If anyone out there wants a quality MC later this summer, this is a golden opportunity to recruit one. It would be a shame for one of Toronto's best MC's to not have a gig later this summer as Karaoke Hosts like Ty are a rare find.
Final Grade: B+
Facilities: 8.3 (excellent layout overall, lots of space, a stage facing the audience with room to dance.
Equipment: 8.0 (Monitor is too low, something dry with Mike vocals for some reason but great balance and music sound)
Song Selection: 7.7 (Overall good, better than many, but not quite at the ideal of 8-9k, Still everyone should be very pleased, bonus for GREAT organization of books although in by Author section the Authors are in alphabetical order while the songs are not)
Food Selection: 8.5 (Its nice to have a change on primary food but not lose out on old Bar/Pub favorites. Great selection here)
Food Quality: 7.9 (Meet Food from the Greeks, good quality and great portions)
Food Service: 7.2 (Its okay but could be better)
Prices: 8.3 (The Greeks give good value here)
Location: 8.8 (VERY Close to subway, parking free and paid)
Wait Times: 7.0 (Ty is quite reasonable with old a new singers, but he gets a crowd so its kind of a Gladstone Hotel thing, popularity has its price)
Host: 8.8 (Wow! Two amazing hosts in two weeks. Style, Humor and interaction)
2345 B Dundas Street West
Toronto, ON M6P 1W7
Email: tytanic at hotmail.com (if you care to hire after July)
Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays 10 PM - 2 AM