Pista started her set with a song about unconditional love by a performer who once set the bar on baring a single naked shoulder, and athletic headbands as mainstream accessories. "We Belong," by Pat Benetar. It was a strong showing with an admittedly low difficulty level. Like performing a floor routine comprised of cartwheels and half-twists. Worthy of the one-man applause from a drunk at the end of the bar, but not the sort of performance that would land her on "Star Search."
Pista was obviously aware of the limitations of the karaoke equipment at said bar when she pulled up the lyrics to "Holding out for a Hero" on her iPhone. The singer has above-average familiarity with Bonnie Tyler's anthem, a 5-plus minute soul scorcher she cues up obsessively whenever she is anywhere near a treadmill. She can bust out more than a half-mile in the time it takes Williams to make her plea for a white knight who is fast and strong. Of course, there is a difference between listening to a song on ear buds, and beer and audience-induced amnesia. When her hand-held lyrics failed to follow the flow of the recording, she turned to Jody, the karaoke DJ, and gave him a look of terror. She was obviously in over her head, and lacked the confidence to fake her way through the song. Our hero was sucking. The drunk at the end of the bar clapped though. Even offered an encouraging "whoo!"
Chuck continued to page through the song book without inspiration.
Another singer pulled a chair up to the microphone, popped a squat, and sang "Scarborough Fair," in all its morose glory. "He had to sit down because he's shitting out his soul," the DJ said to Chuck. The performance piqued a conversation about how Pista loathes Art Garfunkle. It has been at least four months since she has expressed this feeling about the dandelion-haired half of Simon and Garfunkle.
Pista continued her quest for new material with "Midnight Train to Georgia." Back when she used to drive places in her car, trips that took longer than 7 minutes, she once spent an entire journey learning all the "Ohhs," grunts and yelps of this Gladys Knight classic. Now, faced with the lyrics, she failed to get into the flow of the song. But when it came to the lyrics "I'd rather live in his world, than live without him in mine," she went apeshit. Really belted it out. That's what you do when you can only remember the rhythmic expectations of a single phrase.
Feeling the dull thud of failure, Pista went with "Borderline" for her next song. She knows this one better than her own signature. It was a thrilling return to form for the ailing karaoke singer. A reminder of what she can accomplish with a microphone under optimal circumstances.
Of course she petered out with her final pick. She had two more songs in the queue: "Dreams" by Fleetwood Mac, and "Don't Stop Believing" by Journey. Jody accidentally played the opening notes to "Dreams" by the Cranberries, then ditched anything Dream-related, and played her final song.
Pista, Chuck, and Jody were all eager to get to RT Quinlan's for last call. The cab had been called. This venue had been played out.