One thing severely lacking as an expat in Phnom Penh is a solid and exciting music scene where I look at a poster or flip to the back of a magazine and say “YES! They’re finally showing!”. There are a few local bands and groups from small punk groups to jazz quartets along with some local singers who cover Top 40 hits, but nothing compares to the smashing availability of music venues, acts, and talent that strikes my fancy like that of the Pacific Northwest- and for Ritchie the music available in Scotland.
Since we’ve been on vacation, I’ve heard about his friend who managed Daft Punk when they first struck out on their helmeted musical careers, about Van Morrison’s daily behaviors over a mid-week friendly dinner, and spent time with some of the most talented musicians (one being Ritchie’s dad) and aspiring and inspiring people like Bakey who at my age are traveling the world doing what they love. Quite the change of scenery from lackluster shows promoted via Facebook events in Cambodia. Sigh.
It’s always a twist of the knife when he recounts all his experiences of seeing The Strokes, Bloc Party, Radiohead, The Chemical Brothers, and every other band that I’ve idolized since I was eleven years old sitting in Mill’s computer room playing “Is This It” on repeat and dreaming of seeing all those bands live, drink in hand, and absorbing the vibrations of the songs through every sense possible.
This is why getting to go see Nick Waterhouse live at King Tut’s Wah Wah Hut was so exceptionally special last night. Not only does Waterhouse provide the type of music you just want to pull out some Jack Rabbit Slim moves to and knock back a whisky while donning a fur coat and velvety rouge lipstick, King Tut’s has been the discovery place of musical geniuses like The Arctic Monkeys, Oasis, Pulp, and Beck. Over its twelve year history, the humble and intimate yet stylish interior of the small building was welcoming and lively with a mixed crowd from people of all ages and walks of life there for one purpose: to enjoy some good fucking music.
It wasn’t a meat market, there weren’t couples making out on the dance floor, people respected your space and you theirs, and I 100% felt at home right in that little Wah Wah Hut: no wonder it’s been listed the past few years as the 4th most important place to visit in a lifetime. It’s no surprise as the stage has been graced by acts like the Pet Shop Boys, The Breeders, and Franz Ferdinand not to mention that time Ritchie threw a pint at the lead singer of The Bravery and knocked him right in the head- typical. So our time jiving to the obviously adored act last night was an excellent first experience at KTWWH and hopefully I’ll be able to catch Waterhouse next time I’m back in the states with some of my music-loving friends there.
It’s been one of the highlights of my trip; I’ll be humming along to some Waterhouse tunes for a long time to come with memories of deadly piano solos, brogues, and excellent company.