Few activities are quite as freeing as karaoke. While many of us may be shy, timid, or altogether introverted on a regular day, when karaoke night dawns, our inner star shines and we let out all the raw energy we've been holding onto.
Seriously, I truly believe karaoke is purely cathartic experience. The magical blend of alcohol, your favourite song, and the audience's energy make for a one-of-a-kind sensation that is equal parts emotionally freeing and elating.
And yes, I do believe that one needs to be a least a little bit drunk to do karaoke properly. Not only does a little bit of booze help you get in touch with your emotions, there's also the simple fact that karaoke sober is just called singing.
So to help you bare your soul through song, I've assembled what I believe to be the best karaoke spots in the city. On the list, I've stuck to places that always have karaoke, rather than specific evenings/events, because when you need to belt out a tune, you simply must satiate the craving, and these spots are always at the ready.
Pang Pang Karaoke
Perhaps the quintessential "Asian-style" karaoke bar in Montreal (meaning you do all of your singing in private rooms, not in an open bar), Pang Pang is great if you're not all that comfortable with singing in public.
Available spaces range in size and can thus accompany almost any group, meaning a small posse or giant birthday party can both find a room at Pang Pang.
Best of all, at least in my not-so-humble opinion, is the kinda-random Asian music videos that are played when you pick popular North American songs.
3812 Saint Laurent
I've had some great nights and some not-so-great nights at 3 Minots, as the Saint Laurent karaoke bar can be kind of hit-or-miss depending on the crowd.
If the bar is empty and you get to dominate the stage with your pals (which happens more often than you'd think), it's awesome. On the other hand, you do have the potential of getting stuck with a bunch of wasted kids stumbling around Saint Laurent who pop in because all the other bars are packed.
Still, despite the unpredictable clientele, 3 Minots has cheap drinks and a solid stage for singing, making it a fairly legit karaoke spot.
32 Beaubien E (Lipster Sundays) + 1230 Saint Laurent (Bareaoke)
Okay, so I know I said I would refrain from including special one-night karaoke events, but Lipster is simply too great to pass up. You'll understand why in a couple of sentences.
While Lipster Sundays at NDQ is a really fun weekly karaoke jam, the real gem is the monthly "Lipster Baraoke" event. Why? Because it marries two seemingly unrelated activities we all love to do: singing and stripping.
Yup, every first Saturday of the month at Cafe Cleopatra, the Lipster folks invite all Montrealers to partake in "strip karaoke," which is exactly what it sounds like. I know it seems strange, but take it from a Baraoke veteran like myself, it's incredibly fun to watch. And even more fun to actually strip-sing.
Au Vieux St-Hubert
There's a lot going on at Vieux St-Hubert, in the best way. Drinks are super cheap, there are free snacks everywhere, and the clientele are hopped up on the magic of karaoke. The energy can be infectious, and you'll no doubt want to jump in on an epic song that's starts to play, which everyone is usually totally open to, as there are more than a couple mics.
One downside is that the space is kind of small, and can get really hot. Like, if you're wearing a sweater you're gonna wanna take it off and bust out your wife-beater hot. Other than that, Au Vieux St-Hubert is perfect for some drunken karaoke'ing.
Le Date Karaoke
1218 Sainte Catherine
Affectionately referred to (by me) as "gay karaoke," not that you need to be gay to attend, Le Date is the go-to spot in the Village if you want to cover a popular track. With a fair amount of space and a fully-equipped stage to showcase your performance, Le Date has always been a good time.
Do note, however, that the karaoke-DJ (or whatever you call them) tends to only let you sing one song for the night. Obviously this is done to ensure everyone gets a chance to sing, but can put a damper on things once you've performed, which is why Le Date makes a great pre-club venue.
Boite à Karaoke
2071 Sainte Catherine
Expect a lot of youngins at Boite à Karaoke, as it is quite close to both Concordia and Dawson, which is fine if you fit in the age bracket. But even if you don't, you shouldn't discredit Boite à Karaoke's merit as a spot to sing.
Sure, it can get rowdy, but that's because the drinks (at least the beer) are pretty cheap, and they do boast 29, 000 songs, making for a solid amount of music selection.
La P'tite Place
A bountiful selection of beers and songs can be found at La P'tite Place, a Petite-Patrie sports bar that doubles as a karaoke spot. On the smaller side, making the venue intimate, La P'tite Place is great if you have a good group of pals who want to belt out a few notes.
La Chic Régal
Operating for over 85 years, La Chic Régal is an institution in the city's dive bar scene, and they do karaoke too. Don't expect anything out of this world at La Chic Régal, but if you want a really non-intimidating bar with an old school vibe, look no further.
For whatever reason, Bar Zoé boasts an odd fusion of karaoke, cocktails, and (wait for it) fondue, but don't let the rather strange combo of melted cheese and singing turn you away from the venue. With tons of cocktails to choose from, and even more songs, Bar Zoé is a favourite for karaoke among many Montrealers for a reason.
You'll find everything you need to have a good time karaoke'ing at L'Astral 2000, namely a friendly staff, a warm and inviting atmosphere, and plenty of drink + song choices. L'Astral 2000 (no idea where the "2000" comes from, admittedly) is pure and simple karaoke, which is why people love to head here when hankering for some time in the spotlight.