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Charlotte Idol 

Living out your rock star fantasies

In Charlotte, sports bars may outnumber all other genres of nightlife venues, but Charlotte has a lively selection of karaoke bars. There's the Yellow Rose, Monster Karaoke at both Dixie's and Stool Pigeons, the Gin Mill, Jackalope Jack's and Fairview Grill, where I watched country star Blake Shelton sing his own songs and many, many more. But Cans' Live Band Karaoke takes the "feel like a rock star" aspect of karaoke up a few notches -- you're actually singing with a band, and a good band at that, the Swizzle Link.

If you drink too much and forget you can't sing, the live band acts as insurance against your public humiliation. When you're off-key, you can just turn to the band and give them a signal to play harder because you're about to hit a high note. As a notorious lipsyncher, I participated in the karaoke act at Cans because with a band, I could legitimately act as a backup dancer. I wasn't the only one dancing; people in the crowd were grooving as though they were at a live show for their favorite band.

Cans is the new big dog on the Uptown scene, and the novelty has yet to wear off. And there's a section inside the bar that's like the Willy Wonka Chocolate Factory for beer, equipped with beer-brewing Oompa Loompas (actually they're just men in blue jumpsuits, but they're just as cool). But you don't have to have a golden ticket to get inside; Cans offers patrons an inside look at the beer-making process by opening its brewery to the public Thursday through Saturday. You can plan a nice little Saturday afternoon at the Discovery Place, Mint Museum, then Cans -- a museum for beer enthusiasts. And I highly recommend you allocate your Sunday nights to Live Band Karaoke.

Speaking of bands, the ultimate battle of the bands went down at the Visulite Theatre with the Zippo Hot Tour, where the fans choose the band. It's a traveling American Idol for bands where the winning band will get the opportunity to perform with Papa Roach on its own stomping grounds and a chance to compete nationally. With that said, there will be a Papa Roach concert in Charlotte soon.

The Zippo Hot campaigns for the support of local music, where each show is an election. Fans, friends, and family swarmed the Zippo Hotties managing the ballet box to vote for the local music they support. I assume the older couples wearing earplugs within the mostly young, grungy crowd were band members' parents. It was like a headbanger's ball, except it wasn't a ball; it was more like a heavy metal symphony. In fact, one band's metal was so heavy that I couldn't pick it up. The lead singer was screaming at the top of his lungs, and my legs were shaking from the vibration of the bass coming up from the concrete floor. I cast my vote for Influence, a band with a more radio friendly sound and TV-friendly faces (translation: they were hot).

Psssstttt ... If you have any dirt or inside scoop on nightlife, shoot me an e-mail at

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