Friday, Jan. 8, 2010
Better Than: hemorrhagic febrile disease
Everything about Dengue Fever is huge except Chhom Nimol's feet. Drummer Paul Smith, brushing the cymbals and snare, framed a bottomless shimmer of noise Friday at the Independent. Ethan Holtzman horizontally-drilled into the electric organ while his brother, guitarist Zac, rocked a beard you could sublet a room in.
Bassist Senon Williams is about 11 feet tall, and he must dream a lot about escaping tight spaces because his heavy chords carry the tumbling-barrel suspense of rushing out of a tunnel during a cave-in.
And then there's Nimol, whose cavernous voice came forth with a largeness not usually attached to something so acute, so nimble. Nimol sang in Khmer and English like a hypnotic, snake-charming Whitney Houston - however several octaves up the chain. Her voice grew even bigger when harmonized with Holtzman's organ and David Ralicke's horn peals resounding within the tower of her vocal heights. Her distended syllables seemed to flicker or warble as though rippled by the guitar's distortion pedal.
Nimol, wearing a silver-sequined dress cinched with a black belt, was greeted enthusiastically by some ladies in the front row, one of whom tossed a plastic-wrapped bouquet into her arms early into the gig. Nimol and Williams continually invited these admirers onstage, several of whom obliged, dancing a hybrid go-go/hula to the band's Cambodian-surfer rhythms. Afterward the girls hugged Nimol effusively and posed for photos taken by their shyer friends remaining on the dancefloor.