The main difference between Voicebox and standard karaoke nights at many bars around town is that at Voicebox, you and your friends book private rooms — the bar has ten — so that you're not belting out tunes in front of strangers. Voicebox also maintains its song list (currently more than 16,000 in English) on a website — vbsongs.com — that you can pull up on your mobile device so that you can look up songs, and even program a playlist using your e-mail address and a code specific to your reservation time and private room. There's a central bar up front where you can hang out and order drinks and food if singing's not your thing or if you get to Voicebox early (which the company recommends, so that you don't lose any singing time while getting checked in). A small food menu designed by chef Jenson Cummings offers bar bites that are easy to manage and not too messy: grilled meat and vegetable skewers, sliders, dippable finger food and salad cups.
Prices for rooms vary by when you wish to reserve; prime time on the weekends will run you a little more than weekdays and earlier times ($6 to $10 an hour per person). Group rates can also save money. We went for a test run with reservations for ten eager singers to check on the flow of service and the overall experience. Servers pop in regularly to take food and drink orders and are also there to help with the technology — which is pretty easy, if you know how to operate a television remote control. Since there's no DJ, you can add songs as you go or build a playlist — and you can pause whenever you want to stop for food and drinks. Simon says that suites tend to book quickly, so check ahead on the Voicebox website to book a room.
Here's our playlist, just in case you choose to replicate our efforts — and to get a very small sample of the kind of tunes available:
"Hotline Bling," by DrakeVoicebox opens at 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and at 2 p.m. on weekends. Closing hours are midnight Sunday through Thursday and 2 a.m. on Friday and Saturday.
"9 to 5," by Dolly Parton
"Teenage Dream," by the cast of Glee
"You Don't Own Me," by Lesley Gore
"Semi-Charmed Life," by Third Eye Blind
"Life on Mars?" by David Bowie
"Motown/Philly," by Boyz II Men
"Bohemian Rhapsody," by Queen
"Transmission," by Joy Division
"Show Me Love," by Robyn
"The Motto," by Drake featuring Lil Wayne
"Piano Man," by Billy Joel
"Someone Like You," by Adele
"Stacy's Mom," by Fountains of Wayne