I once spent a happy few weeks touring round New England in the depths of winter. The year was 2008, and Barak and Hillary were battling it out for the Democratic nomination. On the car stereo more often than not for that holiday was Dengue Fever’s Venus on Earth, one of a clutch of CDs I’d picked up in New York on my way through. The above detail is pertinent because the band provided a welcome counter-balance to the environment in which I found myself. It filled the car and my brain with warm thoughts by taking me far away from my surroundings with the mixture of Californian sun and Cambodian beats.
I have never thought of Dengue Fever as being psychedelic per se, although when I actually stop to listen I can see the point, so I was looking forward to seeing how the band fitted into the vibe of the Festival. The answer was ‘very well’ with a lively, upbeat and polished performance that brought something different to a large and appreciative crowd, with the music somehow matching the sunny weather outside. I enjoyed, like I did in New England seven years earlier, the mixture of Eastern and Western styles of music fused together in a coherent and convincing manner. I appreciated lead singer Chhom Nimol’s promotion of Cambodian culture through her music and the exacting mudras or hand gestures that are so important to the meaning of performance in Buddhist cultures.
It was great to finally see Dengue Fever live, and the band’s performance was a good reminder to me of its uniqueness and that psychedelic music can have meaning in many different ways.
You can find my other writing for Backseat Mafia here, including reports from this year’s Liverpool PsychFest.
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