I’ve been a fan of Dengue Fever since seeing them at SXSW a few years back, and the band seems to be getting more attention these days, even including an interview on NPR’s “Fresh Air.” I have a pretty high tolerance for listening to music sung in languages other than English, so I don’t really tire of listening to the incomprehensible Cambodian words to Dengue Fever’s lively songs, but I could see why Dengue Fever might be too, well, unrelentingly exotic for some people. The surf-rock guitar and serpentine vocal melodies keep it fun for me, and the band was in fine form last night (Feb. 27) at the Empty Bottle. Singer Chhom Nimol was a marvel, and bassist Senon Williams was a towering maniac, hopping around the stage all night. Nimol brought a fan onto stage to sing an old Cambodian song. I have no clue what they were singing about, but I liked hearing it.
The first band of the night was a new Chicago outfit called Alla, which features someone I know – taper extraordinaire Aadam Jacobs on percussion. This was the first time I’d heard a note of their music, and it struck me as promising, with some cool psychedelic touches. Second was Cordero, the Spanish-language band on the Bloodshot label led by Brooklyn singer-songwriter Ani Cordero. She and her band played a lively set, a nice complement to the Dengue Fever music coming later in the night.