And for the best show of the weekend, the L.A.-based, Khmer-versed, psychedelia-loving pop band Dengue Fever, upstairs at Sneaky Dee's on Saturday.
In their favour was a healthy buzz afforded to them by the likes of the New York Times (and of course NOW) and an already hyped miscegenation scene (in which hipsters leave basement, travel world, make music. See Vampire Weekend).
And besides the excitement of seeing a band on their way up, the six members of Dengue Fever, five likable cats from L.A. and one amazing Cambodian lead singer, were among the more polished and road-tested of the small-venue acts at CMW. They had more than six songs and even a set list.
Also to their credit: a good idea put to better music. The songs swung from fuzzy Californian surf rock to alt.Asian fusion, and never felt like the simple repurposing of Cambodian music for North American audiences. That said, it was minorly uncomfortable how reliant the band is on the eye-catching Chhom Nimol, the Khmer firecracker who sings lead. As evidence, when she exited the stage, the L.A. cats played a short-and-flat instrumental session that captured exactly no ones' attention.
But then, Cambodian or not, attention-capturing should be the function of any lead singer, and tuneful backdrop music should be the function of her band. So perhaps the most impressive statement made here is that exoticism and novelty can get you through the door, but it takes the fundamentals to pack Sneaky Dee's on a busy and snowy Saturday night.
Above: Chhom Nimol.