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Tiki Central / General Tiki

Crappy Music in Tiki Bars/Restaurants

Pages: 1 30 replies

M
MrFab posted on Thu, Dec 1, 2022 5:00 PM

Bar owners/restauranteurs can spend so much time, effort and money on design, decor, food and drink, but sometimes not give much thought to the music. I've gone into a couple tiki bars where they clearly just put on the Top 40 or "classic rock" channel - the hell with, y'know, the actual THEME of the place?!

Tom Schnabel on KCRW once talked about how a friend of his had opened a restaurant, but was just playing, as Schnabel put it, "lite-FM." So he offered to make him a playlist. If it's a friend, sure you can ask. But what can we do? Do owners appreciate some know-it-all telling them how to run their business, no matter how polite we are?

[ Edited by MrFab on 2022-12-01 19:58:59 ]

U

I agree with you completely. Also I believe a good percentage of owners would not appreciate comments on their choice of music.

Music is an important influence in my life (listening, not playing. I can't carry a tune in a bucket - with a lid) so I notice what is playing. In my home bar/patio I have several playlist of different genres that I consider "Tiki" and I carefully select a playlist based on who I will be entertaining. But I think it's not that easy for a business owner. There are varied opinions of what music is appropriate - depending on their background, exposure to Tiki culture, age etc. Golden Tiki in Las Vegas, for example, caters to a younger crowd who have never even heard of Exotica, let alone learned to appreciate it. They have to tailor the music to the crowd or lose them (and their dollars). But the lack of "Tiki music" didn't interfere with my enjoyment of the place. It would be nice to have a mix of genres like Exotic, Hawaiian slack key, Hapa Haole, a little Don Ho, some South Pacific musical, maybe a little Samba. Then add the classic rock, punk, ska, or whatever you need to entertain your demographic. But my opinion is that the type of music isn't as important as the VOLUME. If you're not dancing, music should be in the background so as not to disrupt conversation.

M
MrFab posted on Thu, Dec 1, 2022 7:49 PM

"'the lack of "Tiki music" didn't interfere with my enjoyment of the place"

It bothers me because it's the wrong soundtrack. Like, you're watching "Psycho" and instead of Hermann's shrieking strings, it's a jolly polka. Messes with the mood.

Can I go SOMEWHERE that doesn't play the same damn pop songs? It's like if every restaurant had to stop selling Chinese, Mexican, Thai, etc because it's too "weird" and hey, doesn't everyone like hamburgers?

T

Music is MOST DEFINITELY part of the ambience of any place. I'm not a fan of upfront vocals in bars or restaurants where you want to converse or enjoy eating. The music should compliment the venue, not intrude, or worse still, force any conversation to be carried out by shouting in your partner's ear. That's dance party/concert stuff. Just like MadDogMike, I too have made several playlists for my own use and I can put any one of them on and forget having to change. And although not TIKI, I have upon request made a playlist for a restaurant that the owner finds his patrons enjoy. The greatest problem seems to be with those post-Millennials who by and large have a VERY narrow appreciation (or even knowledge) of music outside the current stuff they have on their headphones.

[ Edited by TIKIGIKI on 2022-12-01 21:56:30 ]

It seems like most places don't take either the playlist or the volume into account. This goes for pretty much all bars and restaurants and not just tiki places. One of my (many) pet peeves.

T

"Do owners appreciate some know-it-all telling them how to run their business"

Well, no they don't, my mom used to say "buy the damn place and do what you want" and we were doing well so a guy who is not making money might be saltier.

Here is the thing we hear that ALL day every day.

Most of the time what they want you to do you have tried and it did not work or it is just not a good idea really.

Take "You should serve breakfast all day" we did not do this, breakfast is a pain in the a$$ and to do breakfast and lunch clogs up the grill and slows things way down plus it just about doubles your menu.

You notice Mcdonalds kinda cut that back a bit and I bet lots of what they serve now is made ahead more now. Eggs rounds precooked, bacon, ham ready to go way in advance, we made everything to order.

I can tell you the guy I sold the restaurant to Did start selling breakfast all day and it messed the place up, slowed things way down, he is out of business now.

BUT I would guess that they did play the right tiki bar music and it was not working like some of that stuff will put you to sleep and that Yuma sumac OMG not all people want to hear that, one song is about all I can take.

When I played Disco on Fridays the construction workers would laugh and bitch about it, BUT they also came in every Friday, and they ate fast and got out fast.

Slow music would slow the place down to a CRAWL, I know as I played it on rainy days.

I would crank Van Halen eruption when I wanted people to leave, it worked!

The interesting thing is I always played the Jesus Christ Superstar soundtrack around Easter and nobody got it, some got annoyed at the songs, wondered if that was the devil in them not liking the songs.

Should have been playing 50s diner music as that is what the theme of the place was but man who the heck wants to hear that all day.

Damn all you are going to hear these days is F-ING RAP music anyway so anything would be better than that.

Rap in commercials, Rap in the sports intros, Rap in the news intros, Damn Rap is about the most uninventive unoriginal music there is.

So ask the guy/girl why they do not play the tiki tunes you want to hear, they might tell you why and have a good reason too.

M
MrFab posted on Fri, Dec 2, 2022 12:43 PM

It wouldn't be to bitch and complain. We could be genuinely helpful. The owners might appreciate it if they legit don't know anything about exotica, surf, hawaiian etc because they think it's not important compared to food and decor. If they insist on hip-hop, maybe steer them towards more modern electronic lounge/exotic artists like Ursula1000, Monster Rally, New Bang, etc. If they're worried about their business, we could point out that places like Frankie's and the Tonga Hut have tiki music and those places are usually packed. Some won't care, but who knows, this could be an opportunity for a bit of education..?

T

I would bet that everybody who says, "you know what you need to do here is...." Thinks they are being genuinely helpful and not bitching.

But think about the person who owns the joint, if you are not a regular he is thinking "man this guy comes in every now and then spends a few bucks and now wants to run the joint"

I would have to hope that a person who puts what two hundred and fifty thousand and up into a bar restaurant would have to know there is music that goes with that decor, there could be a slight chance he does not know of tiki style music I guess.

Grew up in the restaurant business and even now talk to Restaurant and bar owners and workers this is how they talk/think, it's money, if playing the Happy Birthday song every day would pack the place with people who spend money then The Happy birthday song would play every day over and over.

Always kills me when at tiki events and bars restaurants a person starts talking about all the things they need to do to make the tiki events and bars restaurants better but this person spends NOTHING.

Sorry but they don't really want you to come if you don't help them keep running by spending money and help them pay the bills.

Plus, maybe many people don't like tiki type music at all.

I do like some of it, but I need to be in the mood for it and even in a tiki bar sometimes I don't want to hear Quiet Village or Gene Rains on a Friday night, brings on "I'm tired let's go to bed" and not the kind of let's go to bed guys like.

Do know there are more lively tunes than that, but they are not the same as that song you grew up with or that favorite new song, those songs make people drink and go to bed in a way that guys like.

Once my wife and I start to like a product it goes away so heck maybe we are really good at finding out what people don't want these days.

I love to go to places at the end of the night because that is when you hear the owners and workers get real and talk about these things, it is an eye opener. Plus, I was always the cook in the back of these places and heard what that waitress who LOOOVES you and your wife really thinks about you.

You are money, they love you for the tip you leave, period.

Don't think me mad at you or bitching I'm just trying to let you know what I have seen over a life (60) years in the restaurant business has showed me.

[ Edited by tikiskip on 2022-12-03 05:58:13 ]

T

Funny story: I knew the owners of a restaurant, and they had planned to take a short vacation. They asked me to look in while they were gone to check if the standards were being maintained by the staff they had left in charge. I booked in one night, (anonymously of course), and was pleased to report that both the meal and the service were indeed excellent. HOWEVER....the wait-staff consisted of two youngish females, who chose to take advantage of the owners' absence to inflict their own taste in music upon the patrons. Now I do not know if the rest of the world at that time was inflicted with what can only be described as the pre-menstrual whining of an individual who then basked in the singular name "Birdy", but let's just say that her vocal "efforts" and the volume at which it was being played were certainly NOT conducive to any fine dining! I could actually observe patrons being visibly distracted by the repetitive wailing. Apparently the owner had left strict instructions for what was to be played, but never let anyone else have access to the sound system would seem to be a good maxim. This also applies at any of your own gatherings!

[ Edited by TIKIGIKI on 2022-12-04 14:00:31 ]

T

Yeah, that is just music I could not stand.

But then one Christmas I was playing the James Brown Christmas cd and one guy was really upset by " Santa Clause go straight to the Ghetto" it is a sad song I guess.

So you need to remember that some people love a type of music that others just hate.

My mom used to say "don't let the employees run/takeover the joint" what they do is "work it down to where they are comfortable" so that is not busy it's "I'm making enough in tips, and this is good enough for me".

Well, that does not pay the restaurants bills really.

It's happening at the place I go to Windward Passage right now as the owner died and the place is being run by the employees. Don't think it will last much over ten years if that, at this point they are running on the good will of the past.

One more thing I could look around the dining area and see a person that needed something, there was an "I wonder if they have a Newspaper look" and a "man it is too cold in here look" ever wonder why most times it's too cold in a place, because the help is running around they are over heated so the air is turned way up so the employees are comfortable not you the customer.

And yes, a "damn I hate this music" look.

Birdy - Wings https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WJTXDCh2YiA

[ Edited by tikiskip on 2022-12-04 05:25:21 ]

T

James Brown-Santa Claus, Go Straight To The Ghetto...

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G2j9zRrJUPs

Why is all that Birdy stuff, and that of her ilk, SO DAMNED DEPRESSING? The perfect adjunct to suicide?

"Amazon reports that people who bought this item also bought a stool and a rope". Maybe those albums should all come with a couple of razor blades enclosed?

The Woke, in their misplaced efforts to be so anti-racist are in danger of eliminating all black presence. In vintage ads, in music and in any visual representation. (Well other than as the husband of every white woman in TV commercials nowadays that is!) Some of the music etc. such as you link was just meant to be fun. .....now an almost forbidden state. I also enjoy this seasonal one. "I don't care what the white man say, Santa Claus is a black man...." https://www.youtube.com/watch

[ Edited by TIKIGIKI on 2022-12-04 14:12:50 ]

T

Got a "this video not available" when I hit that link.

But here is one like it. The whole reggae Christmas is a good cd. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fYjoWYoqSl4

Has this song too... https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rEgKEbT5a7Q

Now some people would HATE these songs, I played them in my restaurant.

T

I get "YouTube is not currently available on this device" and yet I watched it on the day I posted the link. All other YouTube works. Have the Wokists struck again? I will listen to any of those you link, just spare me Maria Carey and that damned irritating warble of hers that is now being played in every shopping centre since Halloween! Why do they start the Christmas stuff so early?

[ Edited by TIKIGIKI on 2022-12-05 14:47:39 ]

This is a huge soapbox on mine. An otherwise fine tiki bar near me cough cough Hugman's Oasis cough cough has had issues from day one with music. They keep saying "We get the message" and music improves briefly but then reverts.

It comes down to ownership/management not understanding tiki.

With Hugman's, the issue lies with the bartenders. When management leaves they put on club mix, etc. They argue "You can't expect us to listen to Martin Denny all night!" No, I don't. There are other genres that are tiki appropriate. "You can't expect us to listen to surf..." That's the response to every type of tiki-adjacent music one suggests. The long and short of it is they want to listen to what they like, everything else be damned.

I wonder how it'd go over at Cowboys Dance Hall if they started playing death metal when the managers were away, arguing "You can't expect us to listen to that kikker shit all night!"

Tiki is about escapism. A tiki bar does NOT have to play exotica, or hapa haole, or any specific style of music. But it should NOT have a playlist that includes music you can hear at any other club on the strip. After spending $100K or some other absurd amount of money on a tiki buildout you're going to just pull the audio out of you ass? That's insane.

I've heard the argument that they have to play what every other bar is playing because "That's what the tourists want." Bullshit. Not a single tourist drawn in by torches and skulls and carved tikis and thatch is going to go, "Yeah, it looked super-cool and the drinks amazing, but damn, they were playing Rat Pack. HARD PASS!" On the other hand, I've seen patrons (myself included) run out of the bar when a cool Los Straightjackets tune ended and some loud, industrial thumping replaced it. It boggles my mind why this is such an issue.

I recently went to Shameful Tiki in Toronto and they had country music playing. I politely asked the bartender if he might be able to play something a little more appropriate for a tiki bar. He asked me what I had in mind, so I suggested exotica, surf, Hawaiian, etc. He shrugged and said different tiki bars have different ideas about what tiki music is. But then he changed the playlist and we had a nice exotica playlist going for the rest of the night. I suspect this is a bartender thing--they probably think no one cares, so they play what they want to hear.

A

I was in a tiki bar (Grass Skirt) last weekend that was playing nonstop Christmas music. I get it that it's "the season," but I also know that the Ventures, Los Straitjackets, Arthur Lyman, Martin Denny etc. have put out Christmas music. So I shouldn't have to listen to the typical holiday earworms from Kelly Clarkson, Mariah Carey, Sia, et al. That's just laziness.

T

Try going to a county music place and putting some French Electro-pop on the sound system! (Now don't get me wrong, I fully admire the French for their inherent sense of style, but their modern music is absolute MERDE!) There would be objections. So the bar staff complain about listening to the music that people actually come there to hear? Get another job! May as well complain about the decor, "You expect me to look at Tikis all night?" or the uniform. Just do your designated job and do it well. (And yes, I have worked as a barman several times in my long-checkered career!)

M
MrFab posted on Wed, Dec 7, 2022 6:42 PM

“ I suspect this is a bartender thing…”

Ah ha, we may be on to something here. Since your polite request worked, maybe that’s what we all should do: order drinks, leave a nice tip, then ask with a smile, “Hey buddy, got any tiki music for us tonight?”

And perhaps the owners need to make it clear from day one that this joint is 100% tiki, and the appropriate music will be the regular soundtrack. The customers can take it or leave it. Like I said before, Frankie’s in Vegas and LA’s Tonga Hut just play tiki music, and they’re super popular. Think Top40 is “what the people want”? Play Mariah Carey at Frankie’s and see how well THAT goes down.

M
MrFab posted on Wed, Dec 7, 2022 6:55 PM

“ Should have been playing 50s diner music as that is what the theme of the place was but man who the heck wants to hear that all day.”

The CUSTOMERS want to hear it!!

I would also be peeved if I went to a ‘50s diner and didn’t hear oldies. If the staff doesn’t like it, too frikken bad, it’s a ‘50s diner, deal with it!

Frankie's and Tonga Hut, both have very cool jukeboxes with Exotica, Surf, Punk and oldies selections, so pretty adaptable to the crowd's moods at the time.

Unfortunately the crowd doesn't always have the best taste, but if your willing to dominate the jukebox, He/She/What that has the most quarters, Wins!

T

"I would also be peeved if I went to a ‘50s diner and didn’t hear oldies."

Well I did play oldies just not all 50s music. Played everything except hard stuff and rap.

Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, 80s, 70s, 60s,

But then we were packed most days so people must not have been too put out. I would go out with and drink with lots o customers and they never said anything about it.

Did have one old group of four ask about 50s music once and I put some on.

I do like 50s stuff but damn I did not want to hear that all day every day.

T

I also went out of my way to find really different Christmas music as I like Christmas music but damn it can get old.

So, a Mexican brass band doing deck the halls is awesome!

The Mexicali Brass band.... Deck The Halls

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SBTJtapZ_TQ

Or Die Roten Rosen doing the song Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka dot Bikini it works because it is a 50s song but updated, going to guess you will HATE this one.

Die Roten Rosen.... song Itsy Bitsy Teenie Weenie Yellow Polka dot Bikini,

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eWALn7e1YEo&list=PL4UB_31ZPxf7_KNga3FJtMj2pJwF0QTg_&index=13

"they probably think no one cares, so they play what they want to hear."

Yeah, back to what my mom said don't let the employees run the joint.

So if I was going broke with no customers, I would try to change things to make it work one of those things would maybe be music.

You can't make everybody happy and every now and then there's that cranky guy who ya just can't please, it is best in the long run to lose that customer as he is going to find some other thing he does not like once you fix the first thing he was pissed about.

We call him Gary Jones and he spends next to nothing and wants the world from you.

[ Edited by tikiskip on 2022-12-08 07:17:13 ]

M
MrFab posted on Thu, Dec 8, 2022 8:17 AM

that Die Toten Hosen is great, thx for heppin me to that! And totally agree about the James Brown Xmas, anyone who doesn’t like that is WRONG.

T

Their Christmas album is GREAT!

And go to this thread for more cool odd songs.

TIKISKIP : Cool cover songs. https://tikicentral.com/viewtopic.php?topic_id=43608

Mexicali Brass is great! One of the better Herb Alpert knockoffs. And the James Brown was fantastic. I was friends with a DJ in the late 90s at a station that aired the Dr. Demento Show, and he'd give me the syndication CDs after airing. I ended up with several years' worth. The Christmas episodes are some of my absolute favorites. Some of the stuff is terrible, but lots of gems mixed in there as well.

And, getting back on topic, I think the evidence points to the main culprit in poor tiki music selection being unsupervised employees or ownership with no real understanding or faith in tiki. I remember visiting Kanaloa in Houston for a few years ago. The first (and only) time we visited they had boy bands playing. It was mostly empty. We talked with the frustrated bartender, who said the owners ordered the music selection because that's what other bars on the street were playing, therefore that must be what the customers wanted. Owners weren't tiki folks, but rather investors chasing a hot trend. Drinks and decor were fine, but Justin Bieber really killed the vibe. We ended up cutting our visit short and going over to Lei Low. Kanaloa's gone now. They ran it as neither fish nor fowl and failed. Likewise, when we visited the Alibi a number of years back, the decor was amazing--a time capsule from the 1950s! Drinks were so-so, but that music! Foghat? Tin Lizzy? BTO? I mean, I like those bands, but they killed the vibe. Now I know the Alibi has evolved into its own thing with karaoke and such, but there were maybe six people in the bar besides us that afternoon, and those folks were focused on the slot machines in the corner. There was no reason they couldn't play a more tiki appropriate playlist during the day and shift over to other stuff when it got crowded. Again, we cut short our visit and headed over to Hale Pele.

I'm not a purist and have some pretty wide tolerances if deviation from tradition is made with intent. A tiki-appropriate playlist isn't going to run off any customers (well, maybe college kids wanting shots of tequila, but if that's your main client base your problems run deeper than the music). I guess it comes down to whether the bar actually has confidence in its concept or not. As I've said before, tiki's probably the most expensive concept to get into if you're going to do it right. If you've got reservations, better to invest in pretty much any other concept. Your return will be there without that massive investment in decor. And you can play any music you want without folks like us carping on the interwebz!

T

Justin Bieber being played on the sound system would immediately have me looking for the EXIT signs, no matter how gorgeous the Tiki Decor might be...... I certainly agree with you about TIKI being a high-investment concept. It cannot be done half-heartedly with a foot in many camps if it is to be successful.

H
Hamo posted on Wed, Dec 28, 2022 11:28 PM

Most of the times i've been to Adrift in Denver, they've been playing reggae, which drives me crazy. In fact, when my sister and brother-in-law planned their wedding reception there, I put together a mix I felt was more appropriate for the venue and occasion, but thankfully the music they put on was better than what they usually play for regular patrons. You should have seen the manager's face when my BIL called me over to discuss whether he and I thought we should put on my mix, though....

A

The closest tiki bar to us is a little place called The Luau. The first several times I went, the music was mostly exotica stuff. But then I went twice in a row and the music was all '80s crap. After reading here that maybe work staff changed the music when the owner was out, I sent an email complaining. I didn't hear back, but when I went to the bar last week it was all exotica again. So one way or another, a big win!

An inspiring story! Everyone go support the Luau!

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