It should come as no surprise that Portland, a city packed to the gills with musicians, takes karaoke seriously. From tried-and-true favorites to innovative upstarts, these Portland karaoke options will let you release your inner rock star.
Portland karaoke options
Let’s be clear: There’s nothing wrong with “Margaritaville,” “Love Shack” or “Total Eclipse of the Heart.” But if you crave something different, don’t miss Baby Ketten, which The New York Times called “America’s greatest karaoke night.” It’s the pet project of a Portland musician who spends his free time painstakingly crafting karaoke versions of deep cuts by the likes of Bikini Kill, Neutral Milk Hotel and Childish Gambino. Baby Ketten has a rotating presence at several area venues, including the Alberta Street Pub, Mississippi Pizza, Kelly’s Olympian and Bit House Saloon; check their website for the most up-to-date calendar.
Karaoke from Hell
If you want to feel like a rock star for the night, there’s no better option than Karaoke from Hell. This live karaoke band, formed in 1993, will back you on a 500+-song catalog spanning Abba to ZZ Top. The selection is largely classic rock, but also includes a sprinkling of Frank Sinatra, the Beastie Boys and X. It all goes down Monday nights at Dante’s and the first Thursday of every month at Spare Room. Fun fact: You may have heard of Karaoke from Hell co-founder and band leader Tres Shannon’s other business venture, Voodoo Doughnut.
If you don’t love the idea of embarrassing yourself in front of 50 strangers, gather your friends and book a suite at Voicebox. With twin locations in Portland’s Nob Hill and Central Eastside, this Asian-style karaoke spot lets you throw back sake Jell-O shots and belt out Whitney Houston’s hits in private “boxes.” The playful menu includes cheesy tots, tofu wimpies (a vegetarian take on sloppy joes) and bowlfuls of classic candies. Voicebox is also kid-friendly before 9 p.m. Monday–Thursday and before 7 p.m. Friday–Sunday.
It’s a match made in heaven: strong drinks, greasy Chinese food and, of course, karaoke. Boasting three grungy, boozy decades of history, Chopsticks is quintessentially “old Portland” and a staple of local nightlife for everyone from millennials to baby boomers. Legend has it late Portland musician Elliott Smith used to belt out Billy Joel songs at the now-shuttered Chopsticks II. The new location on Sandy Boulevard is more spacious, but still boasts the delightfully cheesy ambiance of the old spot.
Alibi Tiki Lounge
When it comes to classic Portland karaoke, the Alibi, with its tropical drinks, generous Hawaiian fare and classic tiki decor, is Chopsticks’ fiercest competition. On any given night, the clientele is equal parts lonely hearts, birthday revelers and wannabe “American Idol” contestants. Stay late — the kitchen staff sometimes sets out a free buffet tray of kalua pork before closing time.
One of Portland’s newest karaoke bars is Capitol, located on Northeast Broadway Street. This colorful corner bar offers karaoke rooms in the back and an extensive range of vegan eat and drinks at the bar. (Pro tip: Dress up your standard IPA macaroni and cheese with sage soy curls.)