Following dinner at Red Iguana we wanted to experience a little bit of Salt Lake City’s night life. We headed for a place that had been suggested to us shortly after our arrival in Utah. The place is called The Tavernacle. It was promised to be a good time.
We had tried to go the previous weekend after our dinner at Tucanos, but we were too early. The festivities hadn’t started yet. The good thing was, we already knew how to get there. We were able to find parking on the same block and we didn’t have to pay. That is always a good thing. The cover to get in was five dollars. It was really a good deal considering what we were given in return. The place was packed. We found out later in the evening that the tables are reserved days in advance. It was standing room only. So we found a spot on the wall to stand and watch the action. The crowd was pretty mixed, although it did seem like the college crowd had the most representation. The Tavernacle is a duelin’ piano bar. They have a stage with two grand pianos in the center of the bar. There were two performers leading the action.
From how it was described to me before we went, I thought the two pianists would be trying to out perform each other. That wasn’t the case. It was actually quite the opposite. They work together. It is pretty much group karaoke. People fill out song request slips and lay them on the pianos along with some cash. Usually no matter what song is selected one of the two, if not both, of the performers would know how to play it. They played a huge variety of music. The most memorable song of the night was Garth Brooks, Friends in Low Places. Not because I like the song, but because of the crowd interaction that went on during that song. Another fun aspect to the group karaoke thing is that if you don’t like a song you can veto it. To cancel a song you only have to pay one more dollar than the person that requested it. Then you get to bang a huge gong and they immediately stop playing the song and play the song of your choice. The Garth brooks song was stopped and started several times before someone paid thirty something dollars to stop it for good. That person, then proceeded to hit the gong so hard he broke the drum mallet. The performers did not let him live it down for the rest of the night. They had a creative way of controlling the crowd. If someone did something out of line, they just embarrassed the crap out of them so they got the point and didn’t do it again. For instance, this one drunk girl kept wanting to play the tambourine. She had horrible rhythm and was definitely not a crowd favorite. So to make her stop, one of the performers put it to a vote. The crowd unanimously and boisterously voted her off the stage. Another highlight was when they did Sir Mix A Lot’s I Like Big Butts.
Crowd interaction is a big part of what they do at The Tavernacle. They were constantly pulling people on stage. At one point they had a couple girls on top of the pianos dancing. The performers would refer to the crowd as the world famous Tavernacle choir. It was a very lively atmosphere. I loved it. I would love to see a duelin’ piano bar in Chattanooga. Just one more reason I love Salt Lake City, and Utah in general.