Barfly - Max Karaoke
My mother recently informed me that she doesn't like Facebook because it's hard to just say hi to someone without feeling like everybody else is watching – like if you called to tell someone you missed them and all of their friends (but not necessarily yours) were on different phone lines listening in. But this is just how our generation works. For whatever reason, doing everything we do in front of everyone we know has achieved social normalcy. This might be why karaoke bars (and Twitter, and YouTube channels, and that show "Hoarders") have enjoyed a snowballing popularity that shows no sign of slowing: most of us have become gluttons for celebrity, even if the only attention we're getting comes from a bunch of drunk strangers in a shady bar or an unlimited number of Facebook stalkers. Emphasis on "most of us." Some of us want all the fun of singing in the shower without the feeling of everyone watching us singing in the shower, and for us there's Max Karaoke.
Located downtown inside the Little Tokyo Shopping Center, Max Karaoke rules because it doesn't throw you up on stage like an attention-whoring Charlie Sheen, it puts you and your limited number of nearest-dearest in tiny, isolated rooms that are mostly secluded except for a couple small windows – and you can pretty much get away with whatever you want in there. The song selections are massive, the machines are easy to use, and the only people who will know anything about what you did in there will be fellow members of your "empty orchestra."
But Max Karaoke isn't just the only place in LA that does karaoke exactly like they do it in Japan, and three things set it apart as the best venue to mitasu your katsubou.
First of all, it's probably the cheapest place to throw a party if you don't want to have to clean up everything the next morning before your parents get home. Allow me to modify a previous analogy: we all want to sing in the shower, but if anyone's going to watch us steal the showerhead spotlight, they're going to be close to us and we don't want to make them go broke to watch us embarrass ourselves. Max Karaoke provides exactly that same level of comfortable self-exploitation and at ridiculously good rates. An eight-to-ten-person group pays only $56 per hour to scream Journey songs in deafening unison.
Secondly, it's open until three in the morning. This is absolutely genius. It's an even better deal because even though I skeptically asked, "Are you sure?" – repeatedly – I think that they just have to tell you it closes at three, and I think it only applies to weekdays. I've been to Max Karaoke more than a few times and while I don't ever remember being told we had to leave, I do remember walking out of the mall into dawn.
Lastly, it's BYOB. That's right, it's not even a bar. In fact, all they sell are tiny bags of chips and freeze-dried edamame and if you ask them for drinks they'll point you to the liquor store across the street. So why is it being reviewed by Barfly? Because you can bring your own booze. Here's why that is something you'll wish every bar did (deep breath): Let's say you go to a bar with a hankering for some Kentucky bourbon and they're charging you $5 per shot which makes you real proud of yourself because you found a bar that serves Jack Daniels without charging it as a "premium" liquor, except when you think about the fact that a 25 fl. oz. bottle goes for, what, $20 but is going to end up costing you over $60 to finish it dawns on you that you actually DID pay premium prices for bottom-shelf booze and maybe Gary from accounting was right for calling you a jackass yesterday but to add injury to insult you couldn't possibly sober up enough to drive home since the bar says it closes at two but really it closes at one-thirty and you know they'll be pushing people out the door at one which means you've got five minutes to decide if you're stumbling all the way home or paying for a cab while you could be with your friends at Max Karaoke for another two hours eating whatever you wanted to bring in your private room and NOT paying 300 percent for alcohol while you gleefully exact excruciating revenge on Gary from accounting by making his ears bleed with your rendition of "Welcome to the Jungle."
Your mother would be proud.