Trip Start Mar 03, 2005
80Trip End Apr 08, 2006
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The story began when they found a female vocalist by the name of Chhom Nimol from the little Phnom Penh neighbourhood in LA. The music is an eclectic mix of 60's era rock and roll, surf music and psychadelica all rolled into one package with the unique addition of vocals sung entirely in Khmer. When the cd arrived in my letterbox two weeks later, Estradasphere's feeble third effort was left to gather dust, and Dengue Fever earned high rotation.
Just over two years later, sitting in my living room one quiet sunday afternoon with a coffee and the latest edition of the Phnom Penh Post, I came across a picture of a bunch of foreigners with a beautiful Khmer girl. As I read on, I nearly choked when I discovered that these people were Dengue Fever, and they were coming to Phnom Penh, AND they were playing a handful of shows! I couldn't believe it!!!
Every morning as I read the Cambodia Daily over breakfast, I quickly flicked through to see if there were any details about the shows. Come the Wednesday morning and there was. They were playing two shows, one at a bar called Maxine's, on the other side of the river on the Thursday night, and one on the Sunday night at the Peace Pub, in central Phnom Penh. Given the fact I worked until 8:30pm on Thursdays, and had a 6am class on the Friday, I decided I would have to ditch the Maxine's show, and instead catch them at the Peace Pub.
I arrived at the Peace Pub on the Sunday night with some friends, eagerly anticipating not only my first live band in almost 12 months, but a band I'd been into for quite some time. With an ice cold Angkor draught in hand, I watched the band members walking in and out of the pub. Everything seemed fine. Then something happened. The manager of the pub, Dave, got up on stage and announced that the band had left the building. They weren't playing, and we weren't getting our $5 tickets refunded. I was mortified! For a moment I stood there with my friend Jemima in denial, assuring myself that what seemed to be happening wasn't happening, but within a few minutes half the pub had cleared, so there was no question about it. I wouldn't be seeing Dengue Fever live.
I spent the first few days of the following week reading comments about the debarcle in the Daily, and also on some websites. The few people I met who'd seen and loved the Maxine's show didn't make me feel any better either. Until it was announced by the band in the Daily that they'd be playing another show. Turns out the makeshift stage at the Peace Pub along with the equpiment wasn't suitable, and Nimol had a sore throat. Well, that was the band's angle on it. Dave's was quite different.
Anyway, by word of mouth I discovered that they would be playing a show to make up for the Peace Pub shmozzle at Talking to a Stranger, on the friday night. There was no repeat of Sunday, and I saw the band play an amazing set. Nimol was simply stunning, both her voice and looks! The band sounded fantastic, playing covers of Cambodian rock sogs, and some originals. I'd almost forgotten how much I loved seeing a live band play, and I never would have thought two and a half years ago when I first got their album that I'd be seeing Dengue Fever live in Phnom Penh! Hearing those fuzzy surf guitar riffs, intricate rhythms, and Khmer vocals sung by what surely must be one of the most beautiful women on the planet was worth waiting for.