"Get off the stage, you gremlin!"
The command came from the front of the stage at a packed Alex's Bar. Mr. Mister Miyagi were playing that night, which meant the largish venue was filled to capacity.
A wickedly intoxicated young woman—the "gremlin" in question—was trying to crawl on stage. Apparently, she had something important to say and needed a microphone to say it, but Mr. Mister Miyagi knew better. They know because their entire three-year career has been spent catering to the whims of the wasted.
To retaliate, they talk massive amounts of shit. To your face. And the crowd loves it.
"Phil's harmless," guitarist Jesse Wilder explains later about their "host" and foremost shit-talker. "He's just trying to be entertaining, but sometimes you gotta regulate."
Over a few (or more) beers, Wilder, along with drummer Brandon Laws, explains the phenomenon of live kara. The rest of the band includes Cliff Barrackman (lead guitars), Dane Madsen (keyboards), Travis Laws (bass) and, of course, Phil the Host.
Even if you have a moral objection to both karaoke and '80s cover bands, you'll marvel at how Mr. Mister Miyagi combine the two. They're tight and well-rehearsed and have an impressive catalog of 114 songs. But the really great part? The average barfly in the crowd gets to be the lead singer.
The group's motto explains it all: "You are Adam; we are the Ants. You are Siouxie; we are the Banshees. You are Madonna; we will touch you for the very first time."
"We usually start around 10:30," Laws says, "or whenever we have at least five people signed up. You see, nobody ever wants to go first. But at the end of the night, they're pissed because there's no more room." Wilder calculates that Mr. Mister Miyagi usually play about 30 songs per night.
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The drunken energy of a Mr. Mister Miyagi show will win over even the most jaded local music fan. When some brave soul filled with liquid courage takes the stage to belt out Billy Idol's "White Wedding," everybody sings along at the top of their tone-deaf voices as their fists pump wildly.
Mr. Mister Miyagi perform every first Saturday of the month, but this Saturday will mark a special occasion: Cliff Barrackman's last show. He's leaving the band to focus on his career searching for the Mighty Big Foot. Seriously.
So come this Saturday, bring some Sasquatch memorabilia and send Cliff off with your best version of "Don't Stop Believing."
MR. MISTER MIYAGI PERFORM AT ALEX'S BAR, 2913 E. ANAHEIM ST., LONG BEACH, (562) 434-8292; WWW.ALEXSBAR.COM . SAT., 10:30 P.M. FREE.