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The Leng Pleng Gig Guide comes out on a Thursday or Friday of every week

Weekly Wrap - Week Commencing Thursday the 2nd October 2014

Weekly Wrap - Week Commencing Thursday the 2nd October 2014

The Underdogs carry the torch of the 'Golden Era' of Cambodian rock'n'roll to Sharky Bar this Friday. The gig underscores the crossover appeal of a band who can regularly rock out their sets, composed entirely in the Khmer-language, in venues usually associated with a westernised music program. Credit could also be given to the Sharky Bar management for their shift in music policy that has seen some experimentation in the booking of not-so-westernised bands.

 

The Underdogs - pic: Ken Edgar

Splitter are one of the very few bands in Phnom Penh playing only original material. The hard-rock/alternative/metal five-piece have been rehearsing hard for their first full gig in nine months - at Oscar Rock Cafe this Saturday. There is perhaps a pressing need for more hardcore guitar bands to be gigging regularly around the Phnom Penh traps. We haven't heard much from bands like Sliten6ix and No Forever since Showbox were forced to re-assign their first-floor live music space. In the meantime, the excellent Psychotic Reactions have played only infrequently. Perhaps the size of the throng for Splitter at Oscar Rock Cafe will give some indication as to Phnom Penh's appetite for hardcore music. Lead singer Sean 'Fruit Boy' Barrett told Leng Pleng:

After a nine-month hiatus, we're back into the hypnotic grooves and monster riffs with the size and heaviness of Voltron. All five of us have been working on these original tunes over the break and they're now gargantuan enough to fill the warehouse space of Oscar's and then some. Party hard.”

Bacano play SlurBar this Saturday evening - only a stone's throw from Oscar Rock Cafe. The upbeat and highly entertaining Latin-rock band, founded by Colombian expat Chris 'Chino' De Nogales, will be playing their first gig without percussionist and backing vocalist Brent 'Brentrix' Caughey. Brent is a talented side-man with an ear for backing harmony and (literally) a bag of percussive tricks, bells and whistles.Hehas now returned to his native Australia. The man-of-many-words is the latest in a succession of musician-expats making the move away from Phnom Penh. The open-mic scene here is suffering without guys like Brent Caughey, Brent Clark and Jet Odrerir. The guys for whom music is not their primary occupation but rather an extremely enjoyable and rewarding way to spend an evening - even if the only payment on offer is a few foamy mugs of Angkor beer. Venues rely on the generosity of these guys to give up their free time to come and play music on the quieter nights of the week.

 

Brentrix (centre) with Bacano - pic: Jim Heston

It could be said that seven or more open-mic nights per week in Phnom Penh is spreading things a little too thinly.Perhaps the feeling of congregation and community has been diluted as the musicians are scattered over several venues and several days. Perhaps there is no longer the feeling of anticipation there was in looking forward to only one or two open-mic nights each week. But from anecdotal evidence at least, Jack would say that there are not nearly enough stalwart guys like Brent around to support all these nights.

Even though the part-time/good-time boys have thinned out, a greater number of musicians have arrived into the local music scene ofthe Kingdom of Wonder. The difference is, however, that they are not teaching English or working for an NGO in the daytime. The new faces are generally working musicians possessed of the notion that a living can be earned banging planks around the traps of Phnom Penh. You won't find these guys at your local open-mic because they'll already be playing a gig down the road – that is, of course, unless they are hosting the open-mic itself.

The small, vibrant and famous expat music scene of Phnom Penh is changing from an amateur scene into something with a more professional bent. What does the future hold? Perhaps we will see each other around those traps this weekend and thrash away at my assertion over some foamy beers.

Until next time.... stay safe out there!

JACK DIAMOND

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