In line with this month’s cover feature on the country’s emerging music scene, AsiaLIFE picks some of the top spots in the capital to catch the Kingdom’s growing number of musicians. Photography by Steve Porte.
Sharky’s has been serving the capital with rocking beats since opening in 1995, making it one of the longest-running bars in Phnom Penh. Its size means a mosh pit can really get going and there’s plenty of space for head-banging to the swathe of live music events it hosts. Every Sunday, it invites musicians to jump on stage and sing, dance or pound the drums at its open mic night, from 8.30pm. Every Thursday, from 10pm, Sharky’s Khmer Band take to the stage to perform their range of classic and modern local music. This month, other music events include Rock Samples Live on June 8 and 22, and Euphoria Live on June 9 and 23.
126 Street 130. Open daily, from 5pm to 1am.
Since opening in 2012, Show Box has made a name for itself as a chilled-out bar with heaps of alternative attitude,while also doubling up as a community art space. Also serving as a hang-out for many of the capital’s young punk and rock crowd, Show Box’s weekly open mic night has proved a popular platform for established and amateur artists since launching. Every Wednesday, it draws in a huge creative crowd of music-lovers to watch the range of acts that span songwriters, spoken word performers, musicians and bands of all genres, from 8pm to 11pm. Live music is also held every Friday, with a variety of bands taking to the stage. And if that isn’t enough to whet your appetite, then the happy hour, which runs from 6pm to 7pm daily, should entice you.
11 Street 330. Open daily, from 11am to midnight.
Oscar on the Corner
Hardened live music fans can find something every day of the week at Oscar’s. Calling itself Cambodia’s number one live rock ‘n’ roll music bar”, the venue takes its music seriously, with a range of bands and musicians filling the venue with varying sounds of music from home and abroad every night, from 10pm. Five house bands feature, with Oscar himself often taking to the drums. Guest bands include Kompot Playboys, Joe & the Jumping Jacks and Road to Mandalay, who will be performing their final show at the venue on June 1, from 9pm. Every couple of months, a metal night takes over Oscar, with acts from Cambodia and the region invited.
Corner of Street 13 and Street 104. Open daily, from 6pm to 3am.
Duplex Belgian Taverne
Duplex’s spacious ground floor makes it the perfect spot for a gig, with its small stage regularly hosting bands to entertain the crowds on the dancefloor. Live beats from across the globe can be caught throughout the week, ranging from hip hop, jazz and folk, to afro Cuban and Latin house. Alternatively, DJs are often found providing the evening’s musical entertainment. Every Wednesday, Duplex hosts a salsa night, with beginners’ classes from 7pm to 9pm and a monthly local DJ. Salsa gigs featuring local bands are also organised. On June 2, Kampot Playboys will be holding their album launch at Duplex, from 9pm.
Street 278. Open daily, from 10am to 2pm.
The Mansion by FCC
The grounds of the crumbling colonial mansion make a pretty impressive location for events. The venue, which is operated by FCC, often hosts live music and other events, with the dilapidated building, which dates back to 1910, providing an atmospheric backdrop. The Mansion most recently held a memorial concert for Kak Channthy, which saw a host of musicians pay tribute to the Cambodian Space Project singer. They included Laura Mam, Jessica Lisha Shrin and Kampot Playboys. Other live performances take in Cambodia Country Band, live jazz, Amanda Bloom – featured as this month’s Profile – and Melbourne’s Phil E Stain Band. Keep an eye on the Facebook page for upcoming events.