Kalman's clearly in the zone as we walk up to the front of the bar, where karaoke's already started. A broad smile is on his face as he goes and has a discussion with the KJ, sporting frosted tips, a permagrin, and a tie that doubles as a washboard, which he plays generously as a pair of women sing "Girls Just Want to Have Fun."
We smalltalk for a bit; Goldman tells me that the band came together after he and Kalman met at a Fourth of July party. "I was scared to jam," he tells me, but Kalman got him out of his shell.
Eventually, the jock calls Kalman's name. He gets up and a song that Foie Grock plays, the Foo Fighters' classic, "Everlong," kicks in. Kalman crushes it, his vocals mimicking Dave Grohl's howl, putting as much passion into it as he does into every plate of pasta at Knead. He walks back to us.
"So... what are you going to sing," he asks Goldman.
"Don't pressure me, man!"
I find out more: Goldman used to play bass in an Elvis cover band, doing hot-rod rallys as pinup girls danced on the sides; it's not hard to picture him as a retro-rodder, rocking into an upright bass for guys who have the whole Reverend Horton Heat catalog. He hates -- HATES -- when someone calls him the Cake Boss. "I hate that guy," he says, with no reservations. "The next time it happens on a morning show, I'm just going to walk off."
It's not a feeling of bitterness, though, it's owning who he is. And when the KJ finally does call his name, there's a visible change in Goldman, and it becomes clear that going out with him isn't just about having a few drinks or doing karaoke, it's the same thing that happens with anyone who's a public figure: as he steps up to the mic, he gets recognized, and all of a sudden the pressure is actually on. Girls want pictures with him first; the KJ asks me to snap one as well.
Goldman's song -- the only one he'll end up singing the whole night -- comes on, and it's completely unexpected: Simon and Garfunkel's "Mrs. Robinson." He lights up as he sings it, nailing the lyrics without looking at the screen. He's not just a karaoke singer, though, he's a celebrity, and -- in as egoless a way as is possible -- he knows it, looking at cameras as they flash while he sings through the song. He finishes, and walks back to us, drink in hand.
"That was great," I say.
"Thanks, man. But I'm really just a bassist."
Later in the night, while I'm doing "The Humpty Dance," Goldman ghosts out; he has a shoot he has to get to early the next day, and it's clear that karaoke is not as much his thing as I thought it would be. But Kalman hangs on, strong, singing Weezer and Alice in Chains songs, buying rounds, and schmoozing with friends who keep stopping by to say hi. My chicken-scratch notes get less readable as the night goes on, but the last one says something like this:
"12:35am: Kalman: Ate at [not legible] molecular gastronomy in drinks -- "'it's good if you can [not legible].'"
Clearly, for all of us it was a successful chef's night out.