The End of the World Party: Cambodia Rock Music Still Survives

Hey guys, so it’s been like forever since I last updated my blog. It does not mean that I do not have anything interesting to share, but it’s just I’m toooo busy with my school. (suck to pursue 2 universities at the same time right?) Ha.

Yab Moung records label logo -- photo by Maggie Run

Yab Moung records label logo (photo: Maggie Run)

So, anyways, hell yeah! Two days ago which was 21.12.12, I went to the end of the world party at the place called “Show Box”. It is somewhere near Toul Sleng genocide museum. On that day everyone said it was the end of the world right? According to CBS Detroit, Chinese farmers making “doomsday escape pods;” NASA being flooded with worried phone calls; and supposedly mystical mountains in Europe getting overrun with apocalypse tourists. Oh yeah, and some kids got two days off school. In Michigan, two counties cancelled classes Thursday and Friday, citing both fears about school violence after the elementary school shooting in Connecticut last week and rumors about the end of the world causing distraction. Poor them! Ironically, I ended up going to the party which was an open day of a new music label Yab Moung Records, featuring six Cambodian rock bands such as Slitensix, ANTI-fate, Varaman, Transformer, No Forever, and Count Us In.

Show Box painting on the wall (photo: Maggie Run)

Show Box painting on the wall (photo: Maggie Run)

Arriving there at 8PM, I was a bit hesitated to go in because it was so quiet and as I checked the schedule the party started since 5PM. Then, there was this guy said there was the Khmer rock concert upstairs. Well, first time being there alright. On the ground floor, there were three small wooden tables which surrounding by Cambodia upside-down cement pots — believe it or not we sit on it.  So, I climbed up on the wooden stair and there I was.. a small wooden mixed with concrete house — decorated with a lot of painting and graffiti on the wall. As I looked up the roof I saw the “Advisor” paper everywhere, several light bulbs covered with hats, and concrete pipes with neon light inside it — pretty creative indeed. Hey, did I mention you can get a draft of beer for only 1 buck? Well, yeah you can.

Cambodia female pop punk band Count Us In (credits: Facebook)

Cambodia female pop punk band Count Us In (photo: Facebook)

In the gloomy room but boiling with sweat and tears, four punk girls whom just freshly started a band but could attract every audience to make a great applause with their music — not to mention their charming appearance with funky dressing style — were covering the song “So what?” by Pink. As I arrived there, Count Us In was pulling their energy to make the music happen. Way to go, girls!

Pretty amazed, I saw the mad crowd from Cambodia Rock and Metal society “Cambodia Headbanger” came to support their members as always. The room was stuffy, but the new young Cambodian bloods started to get wilder. This is rock ‘n roll, babe.

Khmer poet, Kosal Khiev at Snow Boxphoto by Maggie Run

Khmer poet, Kosal Khiev at Snow Box
(photo: Maggie Run)

Not only rock ‘n roll just yet. Kosal Khiev, a popular poet came down and rolled his way on the stage and made all the crowd amused by his fluent rapping. Every word he spoke out made all the audience — including me got inspired. After his performance, I got to talk to him. He was a very inspiring guy. All his concern about the society, about the human rights, about the future of Cambodia made the conversation got more interesting. As my observation, he was not aware of where all those Khmer Rockers came from. So, my friend and I explained him how the “Cambodia Headbanger” started. He was impressed as he was listening to our story.

“This is good,” Kosal said. He really encouraged us to stick with it. He also mentioned that people around the world think of Cambodia only about the Khmer Rouge and all the negative stuff. However, we, the new generation needs to change that.

At the front yard of Show Box (photo: Maggie Run)

At the front yard of Show Box (photo: Maggie Run)

As waiting for more bands to hit the stage, I got to get outside and found out about the background of this creative place and the “Yab Moung” records. So, I went to meet the owner of that place whom I accidentally met at the counter. A tall friendly guy wearing tank top, glasses, and heavy tattoo — one of his tattoo is his favorite punk band “Flogging Molly”.  His Mohawk hair style made me think of  a vocalist of Maroon 5, Adam Levine, and his attitude pretty much like a rock star. Later on I found out he was the owner of the place with his two friends.

“Yes, I opened this place,” Myles responded to me when asking randomly whether he’s working here.

The curiosity had not ended yet.

Propey, ANTI-fate’s vocalist, said Show Box and the Yab Moung Records were founded by Chris, Tom and Myles. The three of them support the local alternative music scene. Their goal is to help Khmer rock music industry reaches out to the world.

“Myles is a journalist,” he said. That was very interesting!

The ANTI-fate band (photo: Puthea Roth)

The ANTI-fate band (photo: Puthea Roth)

The party was ended by Khmer deathcore band, Sliten6ix.  As usual, the band brings the blast beat to the ears of many rock audience, as well as the powerful scream of the vocalist Vanntin.

It is amazing and much proud to see how Cambodia new generation is willing to tell the world who they are. Under the true passion, commitment and the spirit of making something possible, it seems like a dream of bringing changes to Cambodia music scene is coming true. As long as people open their mind to accept them, they surely bring their best to stand up for it.