Photo by Nick Sells

Up-and-coming UK indie act Melodramas took the audience by storm at Darlin’ Darlin’ Lounge in Phnom Penh on Aug. 26. Performing at the inaugural Tiger Beer Translate event, the four-man crew brought some much needed rock to the Penh before they head to HCM City for a pair of shows at the Hard Rock Cafe on September 2 and Apocalypse Now on September 4.

Clad in skinny jeans and donning long hairdos, twenty-somethings Matt, Greg, Rob, and Sam, treated the crowd to two sets of original indie-cum-pop rock tunes, making the upper class club sound like a bar in London’s Camden Town.

Describing their approach to music as DIY, frontman Matt says the four friends first started playing in a backyard garage, recording seven tunes on a portable eight-track.

“We did it on a budget of forty quid,” he says. “Then we put the songs on myspace and started attracting a bit of local interest.”

That was almost two years ago. Since then, interest has only increased and Melodramas have shared the stage with some real industry heavyweights, including supporting the New York Dolls on their UK tour in 2009.

Taylor Hawkins, the Foo Fighters’ drummer, has described them as “one of the best supporting bands I’ve had” after the group joined his other band, Taylor Hawkins and the Coattail Riders, on tour.

Now on a 23-day Asia and Australia tour, the band is broadening its fan base away from the over-crowded British indie scene. So far, it’s been a positive experience.

“Everyone in Asia seems to be a lot more enthusiastic, people seem to get into [the music] a lot more,” says Sam.

Cambodia, where the band will play a total of three gigs, has proved particularly welcoming.
“It is probably our favourite place so far, people seem so friendly and approachable,” says Greg. “That really makes a difference when you’re playing a show.”

With influences from The Coral, Blur, and Supergrass, the band has a distinct indie feel, though Matt likes to think of the group as a pop band.

“My mission statement is to try to reclaim pop,” he says. “The Beatles were a pop band and they were one of the best bands of all time. Just because you’ve got X Factor and so on now, they should not be allowed to hijack the term pop.”

On stage, the band forms a solid, dynamic unit, with Matt’s distinct vocals and rock ‘n’ roll swagger leading the way. The group’s name reflects both its sound and stage presence.

“Melodramas are old theatrical productions, over-emphasised, histrionic,” Matt says. “We think that is a fair representation of what we do as a band musically, and on stage live as well.”

The band’s current tour is set to finish at festivals in Australia, though there is talk of a potential return to Southeast Asia before November. Then Melodramas will hit the studio to record their debut album with producer Sam Williams, known for having worked with Supergrass, Noisettes, and Plan B.

Melodramas will play at Spark in Phnom Penh on Aug. 28 at 9pm, and in Ho Chi Minh City on Sep.2 at Hard Rock Café and Sep. 4 at Apocalypse Now (tbc).

To find out more about the band, visit www.myspace.com/melodramastheband

Contributed by Nora Lindstrom, photos by Nick Sells (www.nicksellsphotography.com).

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HCMC scenestress and Everyone’s a DJ organizer Linh Phan (better known as DJ Superkid) tipped us off to an interesting event happening this weekend. It seems an indie rock scene is beginning to emerge in Saigon, and the third in a new series of DIY-style shows will be taking place this Friday night at a bar/cafe in the decidedly non-downtown Pham Hung Street in District 8. Here’s the skinny from Superkid:

Wasted Youth of an Ill Nation III: Talk Less, Listen More

Friday, February 5 @ UPSTAIR(s) Bar, C4/21 Pham Hung, District 8. From 7.30 to 11pm. No cover.

The Coconut Macadam: a trio from France with guitars, harmonica and violin.

Gordon Brome: French guitarist brings back the 80s with tunes influenced by Sonic Youth and Daft Punk. Check out his MySpace page.

Purple Balloon: a funky punk band formed right here in Saigon. Click here for a video of the band.

AKAT: A three-piece grunge/punk band from Saigon. More info on their MySpace page or see a video here.

UPSTAIR(s) Bar is on the first floor of a materials store named Vinh Tuong. From District 1, 3, 5, etc. head south down Nguyen Tri  Phuong, which turns into Pham Hung in District 8. From District 7, take Nguyen Van Linh Boulevard (driving away from Phu My Hung) and make a right after RMIT onto Pham Hung. For more details email Linh at linh@helloyeti.com or einsamkeitie@gmail.com.


We got an interesting notification in our inboxes from an up-and-coming U.K. band called Melodramas. Matt Woolway from the band tells us they’ll be playing Apocalypse Now on February 4. The show falls on the cusp of Melodramas’ reign as CMJ magazine’s Band of the Week. Melodramas released their debut EP, Epone, last year before heading out in October to play Kuwait and Australia and heading back to support The New York Dolls at their show at Talking Heads in Southampton. They’ll be headlining the gig in HCM City, supported by local rock acts Unlimited and Microwave. The show kicks off at 8pm.

You can check out Melodramas before they hit Saigon on their MySpace page.

The event is being organised by Tiger Beer’s cross-cultural creative platform, Tiger Translate. The initiative highlights Asia’s brightest creatives and facilitates collaboration with Western partners through a series of events, exhibitions and publications. Tiger Translate hosted My Chemical Romance in HCM City back in January 2008.

The crew behind dOSe have been throwing some of HCM City’s biggest soirees for over two years, but they’re especially excited for this one: world-renowned house DJ jojoflores will be headlining their latest party, at the Cage (3A Ton Duc Thang) on February 6.

The Montreal native is known to house-heads as the “mixtape king” thanks to his “Think” mix series, and has been voted Best International House DJ four years running by NYC’s Undaground Archives. The globetrotting DJ has residencies at nightclubs around the world, including Cielo in NYC, and has thrown his “Therapy” parties in cities from Capetown to San Francisco.

Admission is 100,000 VND before 10pm, and 200,000 VND afterwards.  Look out for free CDs and other giveaways, as well as an after party TBA. The dOSe crew, DJ’s Slide, Edge and B’all, support. For more information, email doseofsymphony@gmail.com and check out www.jojoflores.com.

Last year, two DJs by the names of Superkid and White Pigeon began spinning a curious blend of indie rock, discopunk, soul, 80s new wave, 60s girl rock, international pop and whatever the hell else struck them as dance-able at Ho Chi Minh City’s monthly Everyone’s a DJ party. After a few months off, they’re back in the booth to preside over the dance party on January 30 at The Factory (102 Mac Thi Buoi) from 10pm til late.

From their humble origins at Cyclo Bar, they gathered a following and began playing The Cage, which became notorious for giant, sparkly prop letters that spelled out D-A-N-C-E and left you picking glitter off of your face for days on end. And then there was the spontaneous choreography.

Full Disclosure: DJ White Pigeon is one of AsiaLIFE‘s bearded editors, but we’re not telling which one. See you at the show.