Ready for something different? How about a band from Los Angeles that blends Cambodian music and California rock and roll? They’re called Dengue Fever and have a fervent following among hipsters and Cambodian immigrants. At SOUND TRACKS, we can’t get enough of them either. Whether it’s lead singer Chhom Nimol’s haunting voice, their “Twin Peaks” atmospherics, or the band’s dreamy mix of surf guitar, smoking saxophone and psychedelia, Dengue Fever is unique and unforgettable.
They are ironic enough to have named themselves after a mosquito-born disease and funny enough to recall groups like the B-52s. But they also have a mission: to resurrect Cambodian music crushed by the Khmer Rouge and re-invent it for the 21st century. They’re cultural ambassadors with a trippy, edgy sound and a new album, “Cannibal Courtship.”
Zac Holtzman – he’s the one with the epic beard – and Chhom Nimol are a memorable pair, to say the least. By all appearances, an odd couple. But after years of singing and touring together in their distinctive, tight-knit Dengue Fever band, they are clearly relaxed and comfortable in each other’s company. Especially backstage at The Fillmore in San Francisco, where SOUND TRACKS reporter Mirissa Neff spoke with them after an ecstatic show they almost missed.