METRO: Anti-Karaoke

Nearly Five Minutes of Glory     


‘Anti-Karaoke’ makes a star out of anyone who’s dreamed of being one

Would you like to become Janis Joplin and croon Piece of My Heartonstage? Have you ever dreamt of being like Axl Rose singingWelcome to the Jungle to the wild cheers of the audience? O perhaps you prefer to see yourself as Shirley Bassey dragging herself across the stage and singing Goldfinger? Well, be advised that if you want to, you can. Really.

To who do we give thanks? To Rachel Arieff, comic, show-woman and creator-emcee of Anti-Karaoke, a spectacle in which the most common of mortals — though it be for less than five minutes — can wear the crown of fame.

The formula is quite simple: one leaves home, arrives at Anti-Karaoke (which takes place in Madrid and Barcelona), chooses a song and, when one’s name is called, gets onstage and sings, bathed in the heat of a completely enthusiastic audience.

Is it like a traditional karaoke? No way. To begin with, Anti-Karaoke has a mistress of ceremonies, Rachel Arieff, that has no problem transforming into any personality (from Madonna to Britney Spears to the Duchess of Alba) to fill the silences between songs. Then you have the repertoire: here there is no Mil campanas norUna calle de París and certainly not Mi carro. (To the defenders of the Spain of the charanga and tambourine, consider yourself warned.) In its place, Anti-Karaoke offers Paint It Black, Panama,Are You Gonna Be My Girl, Blitzkrieg Bop… Just so we understand one another: rock, in English, and the good stuff. Although among the more than 500 songs to choose from, there is one Spanish concession: La Bamba. Plus more than a few other kitschy offerings, as is the case of In the Navy.

But wait: there’s more. Because the creator-emcee of Anti-Karaoke offers the most daring participants an authentic Pandora’s Box of disparate props (from Cocolín to the feather boa of a showgirl). Finally, there’s the audience, which appears to be less that of a cabaret than of one of Al Gore’s Live 8 concerts. I should come as no surprise that the music, atmosphere, and above all, the alcohol all form part of the show. And of course, the more the night wears on, the more the passion grows. That said, hurry up and get ready: the show is about to begin.   -A. Lobo

The ringleader loves Amy and Britney

The architect of Anti-Karaoke is Rachel Arieff, a North American living in Barcelona. “I started Anti-Karaoke because I’ve always loved shows that actively involve the audience,” she explains. “I created it to satisfy my yearning to have a good time doing karaoke, which was impossible for me because all the karaokes I went to when I arrived in Spain were quite depressing.” The formula has had results: in the three hours of the show, not everyone who wants to sing gets the chance to do so. The fact is that more people come simply to see the show than to get onstage. The result is a rainbow of humanity consisting of rockers, punks, mods, camp, and every kind of imaginable urban tribe. Even Carmen de Mairena has participated. She sang La Bamba in addition to one of her own flamenco classics. “We made an exception for her, because she is a goddess”, said the show-woman. “The songs that dominate in the show are mostly the classics of rock ‘n roll, but we also have songs by The Gossip, The Killers, Jet… We could care less about being trendy. What’s most important to us is that the songs are good,”, she maintains. And let’s not forget the modern-day personalities that Arieff becomes in between songs. Although she does have her favorites: “Amy Winehouse and Britney Spears are so fucked up, they’re like saints to me”.

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