Karaoke Underground. It’s exactly what it sounds like. It’s loud, it’s live, and it’s a karaoke night with a songlist stacked with over 1,000 punk and indie classics.
If you’re someone who would like to channel Danzig or Ian Curtis to a crowd of likeminded people, but just haven’t found a karaoke night with “Hybrid Moments” or “Love Will Tear Us Apart” on the songlist, then Karaoke Underground is for you. Featured on Buzzfeed, Consequence of Sound, Fun Fun Fun Fest, and a number of Austin publications, KU has been bringing unique experiences to singers and viewers since it first got its start thirteen years ago.
On Thursday, February 9th, 2017, Karaoke Underground will make its way to O’Briens Pub in Allston, Massachusetts. Presented by LIKEYOUSAID and BSTN BRND, this show will mark KU’s first time in the beantown in 6 years (the tour last made a stop at Boston’s once beloved venue T.T. the Bears). In addition to giving attendees the chance to perform, sing, and dance the night away, the show will consist of giveaways to much awaited Boston events including a special Video Game Party at the Middle East on 2/16 and an Actor|Observer/Energy concert at Great Scott on 2/24.
Ahead of Karaoke Underground’s return to Boston, we had the chance to interview founder Kaleb Asplund about the early days, song selection, and that one time Ted Leo crowdsurfed at a Karaoke Underground event. You can read the interview below and visit the Facebook Event Page for more information.
First things first, could you tell us about how Karaoke Underground came to be?
Kaleb: Once I encountered karaoke in general, I thought it was obvious: I wanted to sing my favorite songs! It was the late ’90s, I was a college radio nerd in love with punk and indie rock and had been pretty tuned out of commercial radio music for a few years at that point, so being immersed in that culture and then feeling completely shut out as far as sharing it in public made me want to do something about it.
And then what happened?
Kaleb: A couple years later, after I came back from Japan and shacked up with [my wife] Hannah in Minneapolis, we found a great Punk Karaoke show put on by Ian Rans, who used to book shows at First Avenue and remains a well-known man-about-town. He was actually doing it! He had a songlist similar to what KU is now, more focused on ’70s and ’80s punk rock but with plenty of newer and weirder stuff too. Hannah and I went every week with a few of our friends and sang until we were hoarse. The only downside to his show was that the lyrics were printed on paper, there was no video. When we moved to Austin and needed to start our own show, video was the big thing we wanted to add since it’s so much easier to sing and for the crowd to see the lyrics and sing along, and learn the songs.
What was your first ever Karaoke Underground event like?