Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Rockeoke! Rockeoke!

THREE of the Christmas parties I attended to this month (or this year, for that matter) had one common denominator: Rockeoke.

Rockeoke? Well, the invitation I received for the recently concluded IBM’s Smarter Planet Appreciation Party 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 Café 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,” the Stone Temple Pilots’ “Interstate Love Song” and The Adventures’ “Two Rivers.”

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 also this month.

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

And if I attended three Rockeoke-themed Christmas parties this year, my colleague Elijah Mendoza of Summit Media told me during Intel's party that he had attended six (!) as of that night.

While I don’t think I sing exceptionally well to start a new career, I think I sing 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 come to mind 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.

Last New Year’s Eve, Mag:Net Café Bonifacio High Street, the joint that started it all had its own New Year’s Rockeoke with Oven Toaster as it says goodbye to 2009 in true Rockeoke fashion. As the club 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.

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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