Essential Tacoma karaoke venues

Sing your heart out at these Pierce County joints

By Rev. Adam McKinney on April 2, 2014

Years before I became a karaoke host, I was just an avid fan of this complicated art form. Largely sloppy, sometimes obnoxious, frequently transcendently goofy, occasionally just transcendent, karaoke is a uniquely egalitarian way for people to live out minor fantasies while also blowing off steam. It's an activity certainly not suited for all tastes, but one can control their karaoke experience to a certain extent by choosing their venues carefully. While this is not an all-encompassing list of places to partake in karaoke, it should give you a good baseline for finding the right bar for you.

Puget Sound Pizza

May as well get this one out of the way. I host karaoke at Wednesdays and Thursdays at this casual pizza place/bar. PSP is also home to Rev. Colin, one of Tacoma's most popular and most bearded karaoke hosts. Karaoke runs from Tuesday to Saturday. If you like your crowd to be teeming and lively, the weekends are there for you. During the week, the crowds tend to thin, giving you the opportunity to try out songs that you'd be afraid to perform in front of too many people.

[Tuesday-Saturday, 9 p.m., 317 S. Seventh St., Tacoma, 253.383.4777]

The Mix

On the same corner as PSP, in the same building, is the consistently busy gay bar, The Mix. Featuring double-shot Sundays (where you can sing two songs in a row), The Mix never skimps on karaoke. With a passionate crowd and a slightly different flavor than most of the karaoke joints around town, The Mix excels at being a dizzily charged place to sing some tunes.

[Wednesday-Sunday, 9 p.m., 635 St. Helens Ave., Tacoma, 253.383.4327]


Rockaraoke at Jazzbones will either be your novel opportunity to act as frontman, or be completely intimidating. Perpetually packed with people, Rockaraoke boasts a unique twist for karaoke in Tacoma: instead of a backing track, you get a three-piece band playing behind you. The band is pretty knowledgeable, but they're not gods, so the song selection is understandably limited. Because it's so incredibly busy, I wouldn't count on being able to sing more than maybe two songs during the night, but for that one that you do get to sing, it's a bracing experience.

[Monday, 9 p.m., 2803 Sixth Ave., Tacoma, 253.396.9169]

Thunderbird Lounge

If you're interested in exploring the outer edges of Tacoma, the Thunderbird offers a different flavor than other karaoke joints. Being that it's connected to a cigar lounge, you are allowed to smoke inside at the Thunderbird. It's a fairly standard blue collar dive bar, otherwise, with a steady stream of regulars and a surprisingly good song selection.

[Daily, 9 p.m., 7121 Waller Rd. E., Tacoma, 253.536.9261]

Bob's Java Jive

Speaking of dive bars, one of the greatest dive bars in the state sits over on South Tacoma Way. Bob's Java Jive is a no-frills institution. The teapot-shaped dive doesn't have the most comprehensive list of songs out there, but it's a comfortable place for a group of friends to trek out to, if you want to get away from downtown.

[Sunday-Friday, 9 p.m., Tacoma, 2102 South Tacoma Way, Tacoma, 253.475.9843]

New Frontier Lounge

While the venue is mostly known for its live music, recently they branched out into karaoke nights. The atmosphere is loose, and the room is long and dark. I've been told that they recently downloaded some 40,000 more songs, so their selection is expanding nicely.

[Sunday, Tuesday-Thursday, 9 p.m., 301 E. 25th St., Tacoma, 253.572.4020]

Home Plate Tavern

Whenever I want to get away from the pretensions of the majority of bars I frequent, I like to hit up the Home Plate for some cheap beer and whiskey. Nominally a place where people get together for pool and dart tournaments, the bar lights up when karaoke starts. Though, there's no stage, so it's a little odd to be standing on the same level as the people you're singing for.

[Friday-Saturday, 9 p.m., 1042 S. Sprague Ave., Tacoma, 253.272.9713]