The "all-out monthly party", led by a familiar face, is the 517's newest can't miss happening
LANSING - The conversation around entertainment in Lansing is often short and filled with undeserving quips like "There's nothing to do here" or "You have to leave the city to catch a vibe". It's undeserving because in Next Up Michigan's experience around the capitol city, there seems to always be a vibe to catch and it's the people who simply don't show up. However, that's not an issue for Karaoke Kickback, the all-out monthly party that has taken the city by storm. On the surface, Lansing's best party is a karaoke night that happens monthly, usually at UrbanBeat Event Center, that is open to the public and attracts lots of different people from the Lansing region. But that's just surface level. In a deeper sense, it's the latest answer to the never-ending "What's to do in Lansing" conversation. Next Up Michigan has attended majority of the Karaoke nights, and we'll attempt to give you a high-level overview of the dope event, and show you why you need to be at the next one.
What is Karaoke Kickback, and Where did it start?
Karaoke Kickback is the brainchild of a familiar face, Power 96.5's own Big Man Genesis. That's right, the man behind "Afternoons With The Big Man" on Lansing's #1 music station, is also the brains and brawn behind the Kickback. Genesis, who goes by DJ Gen Vegas, is a maestro in the DJ booth and frequents the booth at popular events around Michigan, but at the Karaoke Kickback he does his best work. He's the MC, coordinator, and DJ all in one. The popular personality began planning the event series in 2021 after he and his friends began attending a different karaoke event in Lansing, one that, according to the DJ, they weren't well-received at. Speaking with Gen Vegas himself, he stated "We didn't fit in [at that karaoke event], we were sitting through Rock & Roll or Country music and other music we weren't fans of. I took it upon myself to create an event that was the R&B/Hip-Hop vibe we weren't getting anywhere else." And from there the ground was set.
The first Kickback was in January of 2022 at UrbanBeat Event Center, and set the stage for a year-run of nights that cater to a more urban crowd than what Gen Vegas and his friends experienced at the aforementioned karaoke nights. Karaoke Kickback attracts all different walks of life to the popular event space, and each month people are treated to a new theme. Here are some of our favorite themes from its first year:
Red Carpet Edition
Drinksgiving Edition (thanksgiving)
Sexy Summer Edition
Fashion Takeover Edition
Halloween Trap Edition
City Showcase Edition
Ugly Christmas Sweater Edition
What happens at Karaoke Kickback?
Honestly the better question is "What doesn't happen at Karaoke Kickback?" Because the night is so dynamic! It starts right when you walk in to the UrbanBeat doors, where you immediately hear DJ Gen Vegas on the 1's & 2's spinning R&B/Hip-Hop hits. Before you even get seated -- if there are seats available -- you have to navigate the packed space. The event routinely packs the house with popular faces, dynamic influencers from around the city, and those looking for the vibes only DJ Gen can provide. So navigating through the space turns into fun itself; saying hello to everyone, networking, and grabbing drinks before you get to the point of the night. Once seated, you see the vibes in it's entirety. The lights, DJ Gen Vegas in the booth, the stage. It is an unmatched visual that you simply have to experience to understand.
Once seated, if you arrive early enough you'll hear DJ Gen Vegas countdown the night until people begin hitting the stage for performances. That's when all hell breaks loose and the night turns into the biggest party of the month, each month. You either sign your name up to sing, or in the case of Next Up Michigan's Sid and Gee, have your name put on the list unexpectedly. Kickback attendees perform hits from just about any decade of Hip-Hop & R&B, and the crowd usually joins in on the fun. Before you know it, the building is at capacity and everyone is standing up dancing, laughing, and singing the night away. There's a few staples of the night, like the business-centric friend group "Buenos Noches" performing their favorite track, and a Tamia Hustle that takes up the entire dancefloor every event. When the Next Up team hit the stage, we teamed up with DJ Gen Vegas to perform "Can You Stand The Rain" by New Edition, a crowd favorite that immediately had people joining in on the notes.
A night of singing, dancing, and hanging with new friends is usually over before you know it. The best part of the night? No drama. There is a stereotype around urban events that they normally come with drama, one that has never really had a foundation. Karaoke Kickback disproves this, there has been zero instances of trouble or drama for an entire year of the series, a testament to not only Genessis Terrell and the space he has created, but also to the people of Lansing.
So you want to go to a Karaoke Kickback?
It's easy! They happen every month, majority of the time on a Sunday or Monday, though you'll have to keep an eye on DJ Gen Vegas' Facebook page for specifics. Admission normally ranges from $5 - $7, with the higher amount being for those that wish to sing. Bring a few extra dollars, you'll want to make sure you cover your drink. Aside from money, all you need to bring is your willingness to have fun! Starting with the next Karaoke Kickback, which is scheduled for January 30th and again on February 20th.
The old conversation of "What's there to do in Lansing" is getting played out, with answers popping up everywhere. Karaoke Kickback is just another way to get active in the vibes of the 517, and it sounds as if DJ Gen is already ahead of us in making sure 2023 goes up for the Kickback: "By the Summer [of 2023] I plan on doing a huge Karaoke Kickback Summer Jam with some very special guest." And when asked what he's most proud of from this past year, the answer was an immediate "No fights, no shutdowns, and us showing we can come together and build something beautiful."
Next Up Michigan thanks DJ Gen Vegas and Fame Factory LLC for their contributions to this article.