Metal karaoke in Greenpoint still a draw after six years

Any other night of the week, Nithya Rajendran might get lost in the crowd of black jeans, T-shirts, tattoos and Budweiser tall boys at Bar Matchless.

However, Wednesday nights at the Greenpoint, Brooklyn establishment are the domain of the 4-foot, 11-inch tall Rajendran, otherwise knows as “The Nynja.”

She too donned her uniform of a dark wash jeans and black, appropriately themed T-shirt. Unlike everyone else, Rajendran, 34, wields the mic at one of the longest-running heavy-metal karaoke nights in New York City.

Within Rajendran’s small frame is a hardcore beast who can blast her way through a catalogue of metal discographies, something that comes in handy as host of Heavy Metal Parking Lot Karaoke.

The night has been a Brooklyn staple since 2008, when The Kings of Karaoke began hosting the weekly pop-up party. The group since grew large enough to host at least one party every day of the week, with the metal night holding firm every Wednesday night.

Three-ring binder songbooks tossed around the bar offer thousands of songs to choose from. That said, metal is merely encouraged with a free whiskey shot for those who can pull it off.

“We want to get people out of their comfort zone,” Rajendran said, admitting that some nights can be less metal than others.

Even so, she also gets moments like when an unassuming young woman came up to the mic for a Black Sabbath song and the lyrics on a TV screen above the bar — her first foray into metal in public.

That’s not to say a beanie-wearing bearded man’s rendition of Patti Smith’s “Because the Night” or a young, blonde couple’s off-key, giggle-filled take on “Drunk in Love” from Beyonce and Jay-Z aren’t welcome.

The Kings of Karaoke also host a second metal night in Greenpoint at St. Vitus bar, a decidedly more metal bar. Both have Rajendran as host and both are operate under the same guiding principle.

“It’s more about the spirt of the night, Rajendran said, “being kind of wild and rowdy and making sure people sing with abandon.”

metal karaoke
Nithya Rajendran has hosted Heavy Metal Parking Lot Karaoke at Bar Matchless for three of the seven years the night has been around.
Credit: Miles Dixon/Metro

Rajendran knows about uninhibited performance — it’s what got her the gig.

Jason Gersch, a founder The King of Karaoke, said it was Rajendran’s interpretation of Metallica’s “Sad But True” that sealed the deal.

That night, Rajendran walked through the bar’s glass double doors on the corner of Driggs and Manhattan avenues in her work attire, heels and pencil skirt included. A few drinks in, she didn’t remember what song she signed up for.

In came the bass line and out came “The Nynja.”

“I just went, ‘Who-the-hell-is-this girl-you’re-hired,” Gersch, 36, said.

Gersch, who DJ’d the party until 2011, remembers Rajendran as a regular to the night. Even then, she embodied the spirt of the night.

“We just always want to to be rowdy,” he said. “If it meant breaking our on TV, we would do that and just replace the TV.”

Recently taking the mantle as a manager for The Kings of Karaoke, Rajendran’s previous life in marketing for the music industry went eventually went by the wayside.

Luckily, the other regulars to the metal karaoke have not. Even on a slow night, a handful of familiar faces trickle in almost seven years later.

Rajendran she attributes the loyalty to the sense of community and camaraderie between fans of metal and karaoke alike. That, and the off chance to share an unexpected moment.

“I think it’s the element of surprise. People still have the ability to surprise you,” she said. “Whether it’s a hippy girls singing Black Sabbath or a dude singing Barbara Streisand.”

Nithya’s Tips on How to Build Your Karaoke Mettle

  • Don’t hold back and don’t be passive
  • Let your metalhead flag fly high
  • Feel free to engage with the audience
  • Don’t get too drunk before taking the mic
  • Do not — do not — drop the mic
  • Bon Jovi is not metal


Follow Chester Jesus Soria on Twitter @chestersoria


Brooklyn man charged in roommate's stabbing death

A Brooklyn man accused of violently stabbing his roommate to death on Monday is in police custody and faces murder charges.


Dinosaurs could have survived asteroid strike

It turns out there is a good and a bad time for the planet to be hit by a meteor, and dinosaurs were just unlucky.…


OkCupid admits to Facebook-style experimenting on customers

By Sarah McBrideSAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) - OkCupid, a top U.S. matchmaking website, intentionally mismatched users to test its technology, the IAC/InterActive Corp service said on…


MTA fares still increasing 4 percent in newly…

The agency said the 4 percent increases, previously announced in December, will remain steady even as the MTA deals with increasing labor costs.


Interview: Brendan Gleeson on the way 'Calvary' depicts…

Brendan Gleeson talks about how his new film "Calvary" began over drinks and how his character here is the opposite of the lead in "The Guard."


'Get on Up' producer Mick Jagger on the…

Mick Jagger, a producer on the James Brown biopic "Get on Up," talks about the time had to tell the singer some bad news and his favorite JB record.


'Glee' star Lea Michele to appear on 'Sons…

"Glee" star Lea Michele has been confirmed as a guest star in the final season of "Sons of Anarchy."


TV watch list, Monday, July 28: 'The Bachelorette'…

See Andi Dorfman make her big choice on tonight's 'Bachelorette' finale.


Angelo Cataldi: Ryan Howard deserves better from Phillies

Just last week, Ryan Howard endured the embarrassment of a benching that was inevitable, and yet still shocking.


Larry Donnell has inside track in Giants tight…

Little-known Larry Donnell of Grambling State currently has the inside track, as the second-year player has received the bulk of the first-team reps.


Computer to Jets: Start Michael Vick over Geno…

Jets general manager John Idzik says the choice of who starts between second-year quarterback Geno Smith and veteran Michael Vick will be a “Jets decision.”


Yankees looking to trade for Josh Willingham: Report

CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman reported Sunday the Yankees are interested in Twins outfielder Josh Willingham.


Glasgow: Hey, hey, the gangs aren't here

This European city has done a good job getting rid of its more violent residents and revitalizing with artists.


Babson College tops list of best colleges for…

Money magazine has just released its inaugural list of "The Best Colleges for Your Money" -- and the answers have surprised many. Babson College, which…


NYC teens learn how to develop apps during…

Through a program sponsored by CampInteractive, the high schoolers designed their own community-focused apps.


The Ministry of Silly Walks app is both…

Monty Python have dug into their back catalogue for cash-ins once more, but with the Ministry of Silly Walks app, they've made something that's fun too.