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The 5 Best Live Band Karaoke Bars In New York

Remember when you thought belting out the lyrics from your favorite Police song with your closest friends watching would be so cool? Those dreams likely shattered  as you perched yourself upon that small stage before a monotone song-machine as your friends lost interest and opted for another round of drinks. Ditch the old school karaoke scene and partake in the live-band karaoke experience, where you become the frontman of a real rock band before a crowd of adoring fans.

Arlene's Grocery
95 Stanton St.
New York, NY 10002
(212) 358-1633

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The oddly named Arlene's Grocery is one of the few venues to be unabashedly dedicated to providing a live-band karaoke experience for enthusiastic patrons. Boasting prizes, a great house band to bestow would-be rockers with a star-like ambience and a supportive staff, Arlene's is the spot to indulge your lead singer fantasies. Make a note of the wide-ranging song list and be sure to invite some friends along to your big-stage debut, as this is one of the larger live-band karaoke stages.

Related: The 6 Best Live Music Venues In NYC

Crash Course Karaoke @ The Underground
955 W End Ave.
New York, NY 10025
(212) 358-1633

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Branding themselves as "interactive entertainment," Crash Course Karaoke is essentially the Underground's house band that specializes in providing fans, and casual bar-goers alike, with a rock-star experience. While joining this act on-stage may require advanced planning (the group only plays at the Underground on a bi-weekly basis) their wide-spanning song list, which is over 500, and line-up of quality musicians make the effort worthwhile. The group shines in the intimate venue and works tirelessly to make sure all singers are comfortable and truly enjoying their time in front of the mic.

The Human Karaoke Experience @ O'Flanagan's
1215 First Ave.
New York, NY 10021
(212) 358-1633

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With blurbs from CBS's own 1010 WINS as well as Time Out NY magazine, it's hard not to take this group somewhat seriously. They care about two things: rocking and karaoke (not necessarily in that order). Unlike many other live karaoke bands, HKE prides themselves on willingly stretching into non-rock genres and never charging fans a "per song fee" to sing with them. The group has attained a fairly loyal following that has established a supportive environment dedicated to celebrating music and supporting all who are brave enough to sing a couple of covers. This is a great spot for beginners wanting to get their feet wet.

Nightlife & Music Live Kareoke Hanks Saloon
Photo Credit: Hank's Saloon via Facebook

Hank's Saloon
46 3rd Ave.
Brooklyn, NY 11217
(347) 227-8495

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If you're looking for a little adventure, look no further than Hank's Saloon. Labeled by most patrons as a honky-tonk dive bar, Hank's Monday Night Live Band Country Karaoke offers an alternative to the standard rock format. While the song list is hardly limited to that genre (they offer everything from Iggy Pop to Aerosmith), you'll find country music mavens like Johnny Cash, Hank Williams, and Kris Kristofferson. A must-see destination for country fans in a city that––let's face it––doesn't really embrace country music.

Nightlife & Music Live Band Karaoke, Singing
Photo Credit:

Baby Grand
161 Lafayette St.
New York, NY 10013
(212) 219-8110

While small they may be, Baby Grand attempts to provide its customers with an unparalleled karaoke experience by maintaining an undeniably small space where singing, as well as the singer(s), is supported by all in attendance. The intimate space allows artists and musicians to express themselves freely. Although the $2 per song fee is a bit lame, the friendly bartenders and interesting array of cocktails couple with the interesting song list (lots of Radiohead) to make for a great night out.

Related: Brooklyn's 5 Best Live Music Venues

Matt Thomas is a freelance writer who has published articles and stories in The Village Voice,, The Worcester Review, The Journal of American Culture, and many others. His work can be found at
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