Eatertainment is a huge deal in D-FW, but one of the game's biggest players -- Austin-founded Alamo Drafthouse -- has distinguished itself time and again with prop-laden, sudsy events outside the normal dinner-and-movie lineup. Its Richardson location's adjoining bar, Glass Half Full Taproom, brings it with a killer craft beer list full of local heavy hitters (not to mention stiff movie-inspired drinks like The Dude's White Russian), and the theater's diverse theme-party events ensure that everyone from Rocky Horror fans to Tough Guy action enthusiasts can have a good time in their element.
But, cinephiles aren't the only ones who get a regular theme party hat-tip. Alamo's sing-along events offer what can only be described as a ... musical experience, wrapped in two hours of fangirl/boy shenanigans. With Little Monsters in tow, we checked out this week's Lady Gaga sing-along.
How it works
Basically how you'd expect: Each sing-along focuses on a particular artist or genre and music videos are played on a theater big screen with the lyrics in subtitles. Alamo curates the videos like a great playlist, first getting the audience into it, then bringing them to their feet.
For us that meant starting off with the hilariously dramatic "Alejandro" video. Gaga's known for creating mini-epics in lieu of traditional 3 minute performance videos, which makes her the perfect artist for a theatrical sing-along. The crowd mostly chilled with modest head nods through "Alejandro" and "Artpop," but by the time the pink triangle signaled we were "Born this Way," nobody was sitting, even the 40-year-old dad next to me (my husband, who was dragged along at the request of my 12-year-old stepdaughter).
For most sing-along and quote-along events, Alamo provides props. In this case, that meant blinking rings and clappers for "Applause," and it was at this point, when the crowd was most excited, that the meat-suit-clad host began tossing handfuls of glow sticks across the theater and brought out illuminated beach balls.
Why you should go
It's a unique music experience.
Sure, it lacks the intimacy of a live show. And, you miss out on a performer's offhand comments or jam sessions. But, we're not talking about Neil Young here. Even great pop stars often lip-sync at live performances, and the music can be so overproduced it sounds virtually indistinguishable from a recorded track. In some ways, the experience arguably surpasses an arena show -- that's if, of course, you're stuck nosebleeding at the top of the AAC, trying to make out the gyrations of tiny ants trillions of feet below. Plus, though Alamo food/tickets can be pricey, it's a lot less expensive than doling out the bucks to see a massive star live.
Fangirls find it cathartic.
Several gals and guys in the seats around us discussed favorite moments from Gaga's last stop in Dallas. For stars who aren't currently touring or who have been on hiatus for awhile, it's a fun way for super-fans to relive the thrill of a live show. Some dressed up, as fans tend to do for the real thing, which left others (like me) wishing they had.
It's like a time machine, almost.
In the case of superstars who have passed away -- think Michael Jackson -- sing-alongs offer a chance for younger fans or those who never made it to a live show to have a pseudo-concert experience. No one chooses to be born after 1990, but it happens.
You can see an artist in a new way.
I'm not a huge pop music fan, but I knew I liked most of Lady Gaga's singles from ubiquitous airplay. I found her oft-buzzed about shock-style amusing, but I didn't know much about it, aside from seeing her on the covers of magazines in the grocery check-out. Seeing the videos gave me an entirely new appreciation for Gaga as a pop culture phenomenon.
It's a party, but it's a tame one.
As mentioned before, Drafthouse's libations are great. But, with this particular event lasting from 8-10 p.m. on a Wednesday evening, it was perfect "work night hedonism." It allows you to relive your "Just Dance" days without the actual "how'd I just turn my shirt inside out" moment.
It's not just pop music
Alamo Drafthouse sing-alongs range from power ballads to 90s rap and New Wave. Love one-hit wonders or Taylor Swift? How about musical movies like The Sound of Music, Moulin Rouge or Frozen? There's a sing-along for you.
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