Sunday, May 30, 2010

Let's Rockeoke!

ROCKEOKE? What's that? Well, the invitation I received for an IBM Smarter Planet Appreciation Party last year pretty much hit the nail in the head with this definition:

“It’s an innovation in the party scene.

Rockeoke is basically live karaoke—where party people sing with a live band playing. It’s open mic so you sing in front of everyone, usually with a little help from a bottle of beer and a willing band ready to play any song/s you want.

It’s a brilliant idea because the truth is, no matter how old or young you are, you (usually) still nurture that secret desire to become a rock/pop star.”

It really can’t get any simpler than that. While I wouldn’t consider it much of an innovation since open mic things have been going on for quite a while not just here but particularly in the US and other countries, I have to give credit to Mag:Net CafĂ© in Bonifacio High Street for coming up with the term (at least as far as I know and for our own local consumption) and for an initiative that has become very popular and has since been imitated in so many other forms, even though it takes place in a less than ideal regular Monday night schedule.

I got my first brush with Rockeoke at an Intel Christmas party in 2008 where I got to sing R.E.M.’s “The One I Love” with The Johnnys (one of Mag:Net’s two Rockeoke bands) and managed to walk away pretty much unscathed. Although I would get to sing this same R.E.M. rocker for the few more Rockeokes that followed (in several other events and one regular night at Mag:Net) especially since I know the words by heart and also when the lyrics of other tunes I wanted to take a crack at aren’t available, I managed to expand my “repertoire” (repertoire!) by also having successfully, well, taming, other rock classics like Soul Asylum’s “Runaway Train,” The Cure’s “Just Like Heaven” and “Lovesong”, Gin Blossoms’ “Till I Hear It From You,” The Police’s “Message In A Bottle” and most recently, Live’s “Selling The Drama” and the Stone Temple Pilots’ “Interstate Love Song.”

And not just with the same band but also with Oven Toaster (Mag:Net’s other resident Rockeoke band) and with the harder-rocking Velcro who played their own brand of Rockeoke in the recent IBM party at Capone’s and also at the Intel party that followed at Toyz Lounge at The Fort. The Johnnys themselves played at Microsoft's own Rockeoke Christmas party at Gweilos last year.

Rockeoke has become so popular that its concept is now even adopted by other venues and events. I’ve also heard of an Acoustica night and even a Pianoke night, similar open mic nights in other venues with self-explanatory live accompaniment.

It's a different kind of rush. Yes, it's karaoke with a tad more spectacular twist. And a few more fireworks to boot if you manage to do it well. While I don’t think I sing exceptionally well to start a new career, I think my vocals are good enough not to embarrass myself and perhaps to even impress a handful of friends. And while there are still a few unscaled heights that I still want to climb such as Franz Ferdinand’s “Take Me Out,” Nirvana’s “Lithium” and The Killers’ “All These Things That I’ve Done,” I’m okay with the few “greatest hits” that I’ve managed so far.

As Mag:Net Cafe would put it in one of its earlier Rockeoke invitations, the basic mechanics remain simple enough:

Pick up the mic. Suck it up. Rock on.

Now you try it.

I am an Explorer and I use IE8!

Watch actress Sheryl Cruz try her hand at Rockeoke in this video uploaded in YouTube by filmmaker Quark Henares, one of Mag:Net's Partners (that's him in the pic below this post's title) and I presume, Rockeoke brain thrust. Sound quality is bad but well, you get the picture:

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