Although their new Cannibal Courtship is a huge letdown from the heights of their previous albums, Dengue Fever can still bring it live. Simply put, there’s no other band like them in the entire universe. Cambodian psych rock redolent of the late ’60s/early ’70s, sung mostly in Khmer by the charismatic Chhom Nimol (a famous Cambodian karaoke singer who was discovered by guitarist/bandleader Zac Holtzman and his brother, keyboardist Ethan Holtzman, in a heavily Cambodian section of Long Beach, CA) with occasional lyrics in English sung by both Nimol and Zac Holtzman, complete with every band member dancing and moving around from one side of the stage to another. It felt like a big celebration and though we couldn’t understand most of the words, we enjoyed it a whole lot anyway.
Openers The Eternals started out their set with just a singer and keyboardist, structurally emulating duos of the sort ranging from ’60s and ’70s pioneers like Silver Apples and Suicide to early ’80s synth-pop duos like Soft Cell, though singer Damon Locks‘ vocal bears a much stronger resemblance to Tunde Adebimpe of TV on the Radio than to Alan Vega (for example). After the initial first four songs, a drummer and other band members joined them. Their set got better from that point on, with a few songs settling on a nice groove, but Locks just doesn’t have the vocal pipes or the presence to pull off what they were doing and none of the material was particularly memorable, either, though it wasn’t bad by any means. Plus, they also played for almost an hour, too long for an opening act.