Monday, January 18, 2010

From burger-fuelled hounds to a cake for a pachyderm, via piracy: 14 - 17 January

Another big weekend kicked off with the continuation of the Hellhounds' January Blue Cheese and Bacon Burger Thursdays Tour of Sharky Bar that continues to bring blues to the blue and troubles to the troubled. Canadian Dave once again sat in for the Swedish Ambassador, who was a little jet lagged and assigned to bar-propping-up duties, but did take over the drums for a few numbers in the second set. As usual the adrenalin-pumping relentless machine that is the Hellhounds chalked up a few wins and a few losses, but ended on a high, such that the Mythical Dude, he of the sweet notes and deep deep bass, was left begging for more tunes. I'm told he returned to Sharkys the next night to let his guitar gently weep and wail some more, in the presence of Lost Highway.

On Friday night Equinox held its fourth birthday party, kicking off the show with a singer/guitarist whose name I didn't catch, followed by the debut of a brand new band (some familiar faces, and some new) Cacash and Los Poporks: bass, drums and percussion, keyboard, trumpet, flute, guitar and Satchmo-meets-Serge Gainsbourg vocals. They gave us a kind of jazz/funk stew that ranged from French-ish Django-ish standards at high speed to a very funky reading of a Herbie Hancock tune, the title of which escaped me then and continues to elude me.

Hot on the heels of Los Poporks came the Cambodian Space Project. Unfortunately we started without soundchecking, and encountered the familiar problem of getting the vocal to soar above the psychedelia. Our in-house carney-barker, Aussie Ken, kept the patter up while we twiddled knobs, switched cables, spluttered and swore. Once we solved the volume issue (unfortunately shedding some cosmonauts along the way), however, the rocket took off with resounding force, and the crowd -- which was substantial, and had been blocking tuktuk passage along Golden Street for a few hours already -- only seemed to get larger and louder. Charlie Wat Phnom pushed the groove along , The Lovely Irene made her electric debut with a blue guitar with go-faster white stripes, and Srey Thy charmed the assembled throng once again.

The crowd -- and the band -- was even larger and even louder the following night when the Mekong Pirates played FCC, their final gig with this line-up as guitarist Marion is returning to France. Once again pushing physical boundaries of the stage, the Pirates kept playing and playing until half the audience was dancing. I love the swing and sway of the Phnom Penh Horns, the rhythmic interplay of the drums and percussion, the bouncing of Gildas McSwashbuckle, the Apsaric sway of Mom … we were also treated to a brass invasion of the dance floor, and some thumping funk headed by guest The Fabulous Ms Esther.

But still the weekend was not over. Sambo the elephant turned 50, and a party was held at Wat Phnom, somewhat to her bewilderment I expect. Even more to her bewilderment was the appearance of a six-piece acoustic version of the Cambodian Space Project, leading the singing of Happy Birthday before launching into a last-minute rewrite in the form of I'm 50 (and boy is it hard to sing "haksep chnam" twice fast without spitting). After the cake cutting, the CSP reassembled for some more tunes, surrounded by a crowd of mostly Khmer onlookers.

So now I've finally achieved one of my childhood dreams: to play drums for Khmer tunes at an elephant's birthday party wearing a pink t-shirt.

See you soon -- watch out for Cambodian Space Project special Australia Day show at Snowy's over the river.

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