The sign outside Sidekicks promises “Karaoke Eve Ryn Ight.” Credit: Micco Caporale

Sidekicks (4424 W. Montrose) is an understatedly chill karaoke joint. Flashy people sing at Alice’s or Cafe Mustache, but if you’re looking for a good, weird time singing to a mix of people that might include Bass Pro card carriers as well as homos you haven’t met at every other gay spot, Sidekicks is the place. Its ochre-hued wood paneling, decaying dartboards, and menu of sandwiches and highly caloric snacks straight from the deep freezer give it an 80s rec-room vibe, though its cash-only bar and cigarette-smoking bouncers remind you that this place is for adults only. As far as their karaoke setup: Song jockey? Rude. Song selection? Unremarkable. And yet, Sidekicks has my heart because it’s always ridiculous and wonderful. For one thing, a retired schoolteacher can’t stop trying to burn it down, making his first attempt in 2015 and returning to do it again as soon as he was released from prison for the crime. Iconic! 

My most recent outing to Sidekicks included too many delights to detail, but the most notable was the Harmonica Man. He was practicing outside when I arrived, leaning beside the entrance door and sliding the harp back and forth across his lips with one hand like a cartoon character devouring corn on the cob. In the other, he held a phone set to record. An hour or two later, he was on the stage belting out some bluesy number I can’t recall, punctuating his performance with feverish harmonica solos. Later that night, I ran into an old friend who laughed when I mentioned being fascinated by the Harmonica Man’s single-minded commitment to demonstrating his skill. “Well,” my friend said, “he was doing it in the bathroom earlier. That man played harmonica while we stood there pissing together.” Are you out there, Harmonica Man? I love you!


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