HCMC Dining Guide

Saturday, June 8, 2013


It's been an interesting couple of weeks for Saigon's music scene. I wrote about the police interfering with the Bourbon Street Jazz Festival last weekend, and there was more of the same this week. Friday night, Q4 was scheduled to host Little Barrie and Dengue Fever in arguably the biggest show of the year. I'm not going to go into too much detail, for several reasons, but during the week the chances of the gig actually happening swung back and forth. On Tuesday Q4's license was pulled, and on Wednesday its manager got it back. Everything looked good to go.

Then, Thursday afternoon, the license was once again pulled, and no one knew if the show would actually happen. Amazingly, the guys behind Q4 managed to get Apocalypse Now to host a what they officially called a 'private party', but was actually the gig. None of this was made known to the general public, instead only people who had already bought tickets were told. The show was going underground.

And it went off without a hitch. 'Apo' isn't known for hosting live music, and there were a lot of questions about its ability to accommodate two major bands, but it worked. The setting was intimate, and after so much doubt and turmoil only enthusiastic music lovers were there, so the crowd was great. The bands were obviously happy to be here, and they both put on great performances, with Little Barrie bringing pure guitar rock, and Dengue Fever an eclectic, high-energy set. This was easily the best gig I've been to in my nearly three years in Saigon. Mad props to the organizers for making it happen in the face of the authorities doing their best to kill the music scene here. It would've been such a shame to have these bands fly all the way out only to find out they couldn't perform. Hopefully the Q4 guys can get the vindictive authorities off their backs and get their venue hosting more big gigs in the future.

A sample of the music:

On a side note regarding the venue: Apocalypse Now is normally repulsive to any normal human being, where beers are 90,000, prostitutes lurk in every corner, sexpats about, and dickhead security guards try to make life miserable for everybody. Last night though, since it was a 'private' event, the seedy elements didn't arrive until later. By the end of the show Apo was back to its usual debauched self, best illustrated by one table in particular, where two Asian men, easily in their 50s, were canoodling with three Vietnamese girls who looked like they were maybe 16. The live music had ended, and it was time to get the hell out.

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