Cambodian psych rockers Dengue Fever continue to expand Western reach at sold-out Indy

Dengue Fever

Dengue Fever

By Tom Dellinger //

Dengue Fever with Solwave //
The Independent – San Francisco
February 13th, 2015 //

Occupying a unique niche in contemporary music, Los Angeles sextet Dengue Fever delivered another one of their nuanced performances to a sold-out house at The Independent on Friday night.

It’s interesting to note that despite the fact that the majority of their catalog is sung in Cambodia’s Khmer language, they enjoy a following that goes well beyond their Cambodian and Southeast Asian fan bases.

Dengue Fever

Dengue Fever lead vocalist Chhom Nimol

Comprised of brothers Ethan (keyboards) and Zac Holtzman (guitar, vocals), Senon Williams (bass), Paul Smith (drums), David Ralicke (saxophone) and Chhom Nimol (vocals), this band has found unlikely success as Western artists who have drawn their inspiration and developed their style based upon Cambodian rock musicians of the 60’s and early 70’s. As unusual as that sounds, it becomes less so upon either listening to or seeing them live.

Currently on tour in support of their latest album The Deepest Lake, the band had the room cruising along with every note as they cycled through their extensive catalog comprised of both originals and covers of Cambodian artists. Consequently, their songs feel both familiar and foreign at the same time. The psychedelic feel, as well as the presence of surf guitar, is often unmistakable and are juxtaposed with the very foreign style and sound of Nimol, whose exceptional range takes the listener on a smooth ride up and down, back and through the compositions. It is a remarkably good fit, and the fans were expressing their love throughout the night.



Friday night’s opener was SF rock outfit Solwave, which provided an energetic counterpoint to the bill. Much of the sold-out crowd was already in attendance as they began their set with a vocal fan base adding to the fun. Their set was full-on, high-energy rock ‘n’ roll, and they clearly were having a good time as they also shared that this was their sixth time playing The Indy. That’s not too surprising after catching their set. The band was tight and put it all out on the edge, like their lives depended on it. By the time it was over, we were screaming for more.


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