Phnom Penh is something of a ghost town right now but there are plenty of opportunities to catch some great live music elsewhere in the Kingdom. Whether you are spending Khmer New Year dodging jellyfish on Otres Beach, bumping along the bamboo train in Battambang, or trying to keep your kayak afloat on the Kompong Bay River, check out the latest gig listings below to find out what is going on near you.
Phnom Penh lost another great live music venue last week, with the closure of Equinox. The news from the venue’s management reached us last Friday: their building lease contract was about to expire and it would not be possible to renew. By 11.30pm on Saturday night, the house lights were up and the very last band to perform on that illustrious stage, Potato Stars, were packing away their gear. At that moment, I was to be found staring wistfully around the room - waiting for a last-minute announcement to be made: it was all a false alarm, Equinox was not actually closing. But, the bad news was really true. Before the clock struck midnight, the patrons had filed out of the upstairs bar and some bloke had turned up with a fistful of dollars to buy the house drum kit. Then it began to rain.
There is not enough space in this column to list all the special nights that have happened and all the amazing bands that have played on the Equinox stage over the past few years. In any event, I am not qualified to write that epitaph, being a relative newcomer to the Phnom Penh music scene. Watch this space for a full and proper account of the legendary status of Equinox. In the meantime, I will simply say heartfelt thanks to Anthony Mrugacz and all his team. Thanks for putting on great gigs and being a driving force behind live music in Phnom Penh.
Batbangers Band are four exuberant young Cambodian guys from Battambang making great rock’n’roll music. This Thursday they will team up with the estimable punk powerhouse Bob Passion & The Lop Lops for a one-off gig at Madison Corner. Batbangers lead singer Sony let Leng Pleng know that funds will be raised at the gig to donate to a local hospital.
Music lovers currently holidaying in the provinces might consider an early return to Phnom Penh to catch a special gig taking place at FCC – The Mansion this Saturday. Astronomy Class will be performing a full concert with Cambodian chanteuse Srey Channty. The lead singer of Cambodian Space Project recorded a fantastic album with Astronomy Class last year entitled Mekong Delta Sunrise. Her voice works really well with the groovy beats created by the Australian hip-hop trio. Channty and the band are also scheduled to appear at an after-party event taking place at D-Club.
Later in the week, U.S. singing sensation Jessica Gibson begins a whistle-stop of Cambodia in the company of maestro Phil Javelle. The duo will begin with a show at Bouchon in Phnom Penh on Wednesday, with dates to follow at Mao’s Club, Sofitel and D22. Each of these gigs will be a great opportunity to see a fantastic singer and performer backed up by a genuine musical wizard. Check out the video below to hear Jessica showcasing her Chinese-language singing skills!
We will leave you with greetings of the season from Leng Pleng and best wishes wherever you are in the Kingdom… perhaps even, like guitar hero Aymen Ghali, relaxing on a Tuol Kork rooftop, enjoying an unusually quiet Phnom Penh:
Stay safe out there and… see you around the traps!