What is so great about Frances Farmer Organ Karaoke? As a karaoker by the (spectacular) name of Saunatina succinctly put it, "There's an ORGAN." FFOK is karaoke accompanied by live organ, every first and third Thursday at Vermillion on Capitol Hill. The organ is a majestic instrument, the Organ Monkey knows approximately one million awesome and obscure songs, and both a microphone and a megaphone are provided for your choice of vocal amplification. At the inaugural edition of FFOK, people went completely apeshit.
Especially bananas-making: a redhead who somehow encompassed both total gawkiness and absolute grace performing the theme song from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. A highly energetic megaphoned shout-along of the Ramones' "I Wanna Be Sedated." A man named Asa's spoken-word "Quote Potpourri from Star Wars IV, V, and VI, accompanied by 'The Imperial March.'" A woman named Abby's occupation of the soul and pipes of Klaus Nomi for "Total Eclipse" (with an interlude, on command from the Organ Monkey, of interpretive dance). A gentleman named Bill losing his ever-loving mind re-creating "Angry rant on the set of Terminator 4" by Christian Bale, with the music from the Batman TV show, while drinking a flute of champagne. Most people were drinking Rainier tallboys—a lot of Rainier tallboys.
The Organ Monkey is certified Stranger Genius Korby Sears. He's a founding member of performance group/freak show Seattle School, as well as a human jukebox/organist extraordinaire. Someone was getting rid of the vintage Hammond organ; Sears talked to the good people of Vermillion about acquiring it. Now there's this.
What's Frances Farmer got to do with it? According to Sears, all the bad songs have been "lobotomized" out: "no boring ballads, no turgid threnodies." (Also, the www.ffok.net website—an experience in and of itself—betrays a certain wistful crush: "KORBY would have dated Frances Farmer in a heartbeat. He'd know how to show her a good time.") The songbooks are either pink snakeskin or Pee-Chees ("because we're poor"), and the song list is worth the price of admission (free) alone: "ANTHEM: Pomp and Circumstance (NOTE: there are no lyrics to this—make something up)." "YOU: Had a shitty day? At work? At school? Your parole officer? Just RANT ABOUT IT. accompanied by 'Kashmir' by Led Zeppelin, in a loop, until your hate is gone."
The backdrop for FFOK singers is a rubber-ducky shower curtain with an actual showerhead (no apparent water supply; connection to Frances Farmer uncertain). While the acoustics of Vermillion are a little odd—high ceiling, exposed brick—Sears provides backup vocals (and everybody can use some of those). The next Frances Farmer Organ Karaoke is April 15 at 8:00 p.m., but get there early: The place was packed.
Vermillion, 1508 11th Ave, 709-9797