Aug 09 2013
Music in Phnom Penh can be a hit and miss affair. My local nightclub’s playlist includes Gangnam Style, Mr Boombastic and karaoke staple Ali Baba, played at full volume, naturally. A hunt around the markets will reward you with plenty of old-school Khmer classics recorded in the 1960s by superstars Pan Ron and Sin Sisamouth. But, like coffee shops and tall towers, live music gigs are now also popping up all around the Cambodian capital. If you’re in town in August and like to collect new musical experiences, the first Vibe Music Fest is definitely worth a look.
Vibe Music Festival runs from August 16 to 25 at Doors tapas bar, a short walk from Wat Phnom. The festival will showcase some of the best music acts currently in Cambodia, with a mix of Khmer and expat musicians.
“We started the festival as it seemed a natural step — after all PP is such a dynamic village with so many absurd personalities. Why not put them all up on stage?” said Gabi Faja, a Phnom Penh-based musician who thought up the concept. “The festival promotes friendship and togetherness though music and it has no pretenses or objectives other than being itself.”
The music extravaganza begins with Dub Addiction on August 16. While ragga dub might not spring to mind as Southeast Asian music, the band mix reggae rhythms and Cambodian vocals to striking effect. VJ/DJ Roberto will enhance the soundscape with 3D projections. Dancing yourself into a sweaty mess is generally a given for any Dub Addiction performance.
Cambostomp will put on a drumming performance during dinner on August 19, showcasing traditional drums such as the huge skor thom (literally, ‘big drum’). Book a seat and chow down to the sounds of thunder.
August 24 is a rare opportunity to see Cambodian folksinger Master Kong Nay, the ‘Ray Charles of the Mekong’, playing his chapei, a two-stringed long-necked guitar. His distinctive vocal style, cheeky wit and trademark sunglasses are all part of the legend. He will be followed by Krom, an acoustic barang-Khmer collaboration who create haunting songs. Cambodian singer Sophea Chamroeun has a wonderfully ethereal voice, blending traditional singing styles with Minko’s delta blues guitar.
Other acts include acoustic pop-rock twosome Khmera; Amanda Bloom, a Phnom Penh-based singer songwriter with two albums to her name; the jazz collaboration of Kin with Euan Gray of Australian band The Rooftops; and pianist/guitarist Charlie Corrie.
All events are free entry apart from on August 24, with tickets at $3, but advance booking is recommended. Tickets available from Doors and The Piano Shop on the corner of Street 13 and Street 178, by the National Museum.
18 Street 47 (corner with Street 84)
T: 023 986114
Watch the story of Master Kong Nay’s life
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