CHICAGO (CBS) — Singing is serious business every Wednesday night at Mad River Bar & Grille in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood.
“We have people from all walks of life. We have some lawyers, college professors. We have some people who are just new to the Chicago area and want to meet new people,” said Stacia King, Second City Karaoke.
The only one of its kind in the Midwest, the league is part of United Karaoke based in Washington, D.C.
“This league started a few years back. It went ahead and people decided they wanted to do more than just a contest, or just hanging out to do karaoke. It actually works as a competitive, social karaoke league and we’re all about community and having fun.” King said.
Every week, teams are arranged into a random one-to-one match up with another team for three rounds. The first two rounds are solo rounds; the third round is a group performance. The audience votes through an app. The team with the highest number of votes in a solo round receives four points. The team with the highest number of votes in a group performance receives six points.
“You have six teams, so you compete against each other in different match ups against whoever you’re matched up with that week. You get two solo rounds and a group round each week and there are different themes each week, too, so we have 80’s week, duets week, all these kinda random themes, you pick a song for it and you just go,” said Devon Ross, who is competing in her fourth season.
“Everyone’s here to have fun. Everyone here loves to perform, so everyone’s super supportive,” she said.
“Ok, 1,2,3…it’s the end of the world as we know it,” sings Team “The Most Cake”.
The eight singers warm up outside on the sidewalk for their upcoming group round. They ended up getting the most points and are ranked No. 1 going into this week’s finals.
“I’m singing the lead. So I’ve been frantically practicing verses,” said Matt Holsapple, karaoke singer. “I’ve been singing it blindfolded so I’ve been trying to memorize the words,” he laughed.
Holsapple is in his fourth year competing in Second City Karaoke.
“I did a lot of musical theater as a kid, was in the choir and in the band. I’ve always been a ham who likes to be on stage. I always say I have very little shame, so this is a way to kinda get through that,” Holsapple laughed.
King said while the league is the only one of its kind in the Midwest, she’s looking to expand into the suburbs.
“I’ve had a request to branch out. So I’m always checking out new spots and looking to see if there is enough interest to start a league. To start we need about 42 people.” she said.
This Wednesday is the summer league finals.
“All the teams have every chance to be the top team of the season. The judges look for performance and enthusiasm, sometimes it’s singing ability, sometimes its both,” King said.
The winners will receive prizes and swag and a medal.
“And of course bragging rights. I’ve heard people go to work in their t-shirt the next day with their medal around their neck to show off,” King said.
“I call this my therapy. It kinda lets us distress, enjoy music, relax and have fun. It’s a whole different phenomenon. Karaoke, I always call it the good, the bad, the liquid courage and the just because groups. You have all people from all walks of life and I think it’s just a chance to let your hair down and do something different that breaks up the monotony of life.” King said.
“Everyone loves anything upbeat and a great chorus. I belt out anything Adele or Amy Winehouse,” Ross said.
“What I think is amazing is what a great community it is and how support everyone of everyone is. Some people are incredibly talented and could be on big stages and then there’s the rest of us,” Holsapple laughed. “But everyone gets the same amount of applause and cheers and it’s really great in that way and that’s what keeps people coming back. It’s not necessarily the performance but the great community that it is.”
Second City Karaoke is registering people for their fall league.
The season lasts for 10 weeks. Weeks 9 and 10 are semifinals and finals. For more information, log onto secondcitykaraoke.com