Irvine After Dark: ‘The Only rule we have is, be cool.’


Sue Ziehmer-Harris forgot to bring the wings for her stage costume.

But hey, who needs wings when you’re belting out the Foo Fighters’ song, “Learn to Fly” — all while backed by a live band and a supportive audience?

When she had finished her high-octane performance featuring an eclectic choreography of leaping, dancing, clapping and crawling, Ziehmer-Harris exited the stage and proclaimed, with a huge smile, “This is the best thing in Irvine.”

Welcome to “live band karaoke,” a decidedly offbeat, twice-monthly after-hours event at Irvine Spectrum Center where people of all ages take the stage and bare their artistic souls, one note at a time.

Unlike recorded karaoke music, singers are backed live by Casual Encounters, a professional L.A. based band whose members know a whopping 350 songs — and are prepared to play them at a tap of a toe or head nod. “Dream On” by Aerosmith? Hit it. “I Kissed a Girl” by Katy Perry? Let’s rock.

“We like to call it karaoke with an edge,” says Rosh Roslin, Casual Encounters’ leader and guitarist. “The only rule we have is, be cool.”

And the coolest thing about it?

“This is the closest thing to being the lead singer of a band, no doubt.”

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