Where it all starts again

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Bowling, Bumper Cars and Dengue Fever

The band that made the birthday
May 11th, a date edged into people's minds around the world, packed with memories of limousine vans, joint parties in the Bok, getting the cops called because there are too many people on the roof...
Spoken like the egomaniac I have no shame in being, I find myself in SE Asia and uncertain if I will manage to match the incredible birthday parties I've thrown in Ireland, San Francisco, and Brussels. I don't know nearly as many people, I've been here for just a few weeks and I'm not even sure where to go or what to do. In a daring move, I leave it to Rocket to figure it out, and get back in the pool.
Home, shower and change. Nina's got something up her sleeve, and as per usual I am completely clueless. I hate surprises because I'm incapable of figuring out what they are. This could be associated with why I love cinema and am driven mad when people say the film was 'predictable', but that's off the topic.
Hop in the tuk tuk and Nina holds back from blindfolding me, probably due to the fact that we've been here for such a short time, we rarely know where we are, let alone where we're going.
Parkway Mall. It has a bowling alley and bumper cars.
We stop at the Parkway Mall. I take a look around. Look for signs. Nothing. I have absolutely no idea where I am. Nina grins like a cartoon character and we head into the place. Of course, Nina has no idea where we are either, so after getting atrociously lost, we finally stumble across Millary (Luke, see last post) who's outside a BOWLING ALLEY! I haven't been bowling in years – ever since the infamous O'Reilly's Christmas party of 2004. After a very drunken session of bowling in Brussels I managed to dislocate my kneecap (who does that!?) and then went dancing. It didn't really work out for me in the long run.

Ma peeps.
We bowl, we drink, we dance, and we affectionately hug the AC because it's about 60C inside. I win and beat everyone buy 100 million points and this is a raging lie. I suck.

On we go down the same hallway in the same... I guess it's a shopping centre, as far as I can fathom. 
No, no, they're really bowling.
The signs become apparent: This really cool band I have never heard of called Dengue Fever is playing. I'm not too sure about it all at the beginning; they are a mix of jazz and rock and... traditional Khmer sounds. Just Youtube 'khmer pop music' and you'll see why I'm cagey about the whole affair.
On the walk down towards the venue we find a bumper cars arena. Note that we are still in the shopping center. We decide to give each other whiplash before the show. For 15 minutes we laugh like complete idiots, crash into each other, pee in our pants a little, and have a brilliant time.
Who can you find?
It's time for Dengue Fever, and the mood is set. The room fills with (mostly) expats from around the country, and the temperature goes from 60 to 100C. It's wild how gin & tonic passes for water in this heat, and after pounding back five of them I realise I better pace myself or this will end up being another Hunter S. Thompson & Swampy night.
Chhom Nimol, lead singer.

I wish I knew this guy's name...
There's no real way of describing Dengue Fever. You simply have to see them. A four-man, one powerful woman band hits you like a delicately embroidered sledgehammer in the shape of an Asian temple, a sweet balance of American electric rock and a high-pitched Khmer fluctuating voice that's as romantic as the land it emulates. If you ever get the chance to hear them, don't skip it. They really are something else and I'd recommend them to anybody. There was also a special visit from an blind Khmer guitarist who was, for lack of a better word, indubitably amazing.

The Rocket!
The Rocket has done it again. After all my worries, Phnom Penh ends up hosting one hell of a fantastic birthday. There may not have been hundreds of people there for me only, and the band playing might not have been my mates, but on the 11th of May 2010, with my little group of Phnom Penhers and my Rocket and my wacky concert, I was in bliss.

Happy as with Lady Marion.