Pandora Karaoke & Bar – Tenderloin
***EDIT*** Last night I gave Pandora a second chance, and I have to say it was a totally different experience. The crowd in the main room was amazing, and people were taking bigger chances with their song selections. I’m leaving my original review below, but please note that it seems different nights at Pandora can give you a vastly different karaoke experience. Don’t give up after just one visit!***
I outed myself as a karaoke regular long ago, and I admit I have a different experience at karaoke bars than the casual crooner. I was excited to check out Pandora for the first time, but I was somewhat disappointed to find that the main room is really best suited for those with an annual rather than a weekly karaoke habit. Don’t get me wrong, I understand the need for that type of karaoke place, and I love that it serves as an introduction to the “empty orchestra” for so many, it’s just not for me.
The main room is spacious, with several white leather seating areas around tables perfect for the bar’s sushi selection. The room is well designed to accommodate several office, birthday and bachelorette parties all at once- great if you are the office party planner, not so great if you prefer a more intimate karaoke setting. (Of course in the private rooms, you can avoid the crowds and hog the microphone. Just don’t try to sneak alcohol in like most parties do in Japantown singing joints, as the door man searches bags before entry.)
Pandora actually employs some of my favorite Bay Area KJ’s, who bring with them fantastic song selections and a true passion for karaoke. It’s a shame that the main room crowd doesn’t take advantage of their unique song selections, instead opting for worn out karaoke classics such as “Summer Nights” and “I Will Survive”. In fact, those two songs are a great litmus test for what kind of karaoke experience you will enjoy. If the titles make you groan, opt for the private rooms at Pandora. If you are happily humming the tunes to yourself right now, the main room is just your speed.
(between Mason St & Taylor St)
San Francisco, CA 94102 (415) 359-1888