Specialty karaoke in Pittsburgh: From live bands to nude dancers, there’s something for you

Ever tried bareoke?

Pabak Sarkar / FLICKR

Not all karaoke is created equal — so if you don’t think it’s your thing, you either didn’t have enough to drink first, or you haven’t found the right spot to sing your heart out.

Fear not! Pittsburgh has more than a few places to karaoke, such as the traditional KBox Karaoke House and Hi Sound. But you can also find something a little more unconventional, be it a live band backing your ’roke or a professional dancer joining your performance. And so we’ve pulled together a list of Pittsburgh’s unique to absurd karaoke nights that are worth a visit for veterans, newbies and skeptics alike.

Jekyl & Hyde

140 S. 18th St. (South Side)

9:30 p.m. Thursdays

Rating: 4/5

Hidden on a side street off Carson, Jekyl & Hyde is a nice escape from the usual hot mess that is the South Side. With more than a decade under its belt, this year-round-Halloween bar is kitschy with its spooky decor and relaxed personality. It’s a great time to start going, especially if you’ve got a competitive streak. The bar is hosting a karaoke contest each Thursday that will yield a $200 cash prize for the winner after finals March 23.

Blue Moon

5115 Butler St. (Lawrenceville)

9:30 p.m. Fridays

Rating: 4/5

Blue Moon remains a spot held down by loyal regulars but welcoming to newbies. Karaoke nights — dubbed Eddieoke for its host — at this LGBTQ-friendly bar provide an encouraging space to express yourself no matter how you identify, and the crowd is fun and friendly. The drinks are good but still affordable, like the tasty Strong Island Iced Tea that costs $7 but gets you tipsy enough to maybe not need another drink for a few hours. The karaoke performers put heart into it, and the atmosphere feels like a celebration every Friday night. Any bar with spectacular drag kings and queens among its frequent patrons is sure to deliver on the entertainment front.

The Tennyson Lodge

4797 Library Road (Bethel Park)

10 p.m. Fridays

Rating: 5/5

Of all the karaoke spots in the Greater Pittsburgh area, this is likely the most unconventional you’re going to find. The Tennyson Lodge is a club that features fully nude dancers, but every Friday, it also features karaoke performers. Bareoke occurs every Friday, and each person who rocks out to their favorite tune provides the anthem to a dancer getting her groove on. This spot is definitely ideal for those who love to ham it up to hair metal and hip hop (because let’s face it, it’s just weird to make a dancer work it to “Total Eclipse of the Heart.”)

Nico’s Recovery Room

178 Pearl St. (Bloomfield)

9:30 p.m. Saturdays

Rating: 4/5

If you’re looking for a more traditional karaoke experience, Nico’s Recovery Room is an excellent spot because it captures the spirit of the city so well. Nico’s is a casual and comfortable bar that feels like a sports bar blended with an Irish pub, thanks to wood paneling and green walls with minimal decor. No need to get fancy here. The karaoke that occurs every Saturday night creates an essential Pittsburgh experience. With cheap drinks, an excellent song variety and quintessential yinzer atmosphere, Nico’s creates a space where the crowd is friendly (No jags allowed!), and the mood is relaxed. It gets pretty busy, so show up early if you’re really itching to sing the night away.

Emo Night at Mr. Smalls Funhouse

400 Lincoln Ave. (Millvale)

Fourth Friday of each month

Rating: 5/5

The emo and pop punk of your youth never really leaves the heart, so the niche that this particular karaoke night fills is extra special. Emo Night at Mr. Smalls Funhouse is held together by the Pittsburgh ensemble, The Emo Band. Yes, this is live-band karaoke. For every person who craved a career as a rock star, but never got the chance, Emo Night is your moment to climb on stage. The crowd is energetic and involved, and the once-a-month event is full of supportive sing-a-longs to standards like “I’m Not Okay” by My Chemical Romance and “Makedamnsure” by Taking Back Sunday. (Sure, you have to pick from the band’s set list, but it’s a good/bad one.) The event is more on the pop-up style side of things, so follow the Emo Night page to find out when the next night is.