Handsome Furs – Bangkok 2010

[showtime]

BANGKOK. August 19.

Mod, Poj, and Paul from Mind the Gap Records meet us at Suvarnabhumi International Airport with the warm grins of trusted allies. Having worked with them on our last Bangkok show, we feel the ease of being in good hands. The skytrains and skyscrapers of the teeming metropolis greet us with friendly culture shock having come straight from the less-developed skyline of Yangon. Between the six of us we discuss the country’s recent (and ongoing) political unrest, cute soldiers versus cute red-shirts, and the label’s most newly signed acts. I feel keenly sympathetic to their various woes and efforts throughout such a tragic time.

As we drive to Siam Views hotel we are afforded the luxury of slow traffic down Bangkok’s Champs Elysees: Ratchadamnoen Street. Mod and Poj are quick to note every slow-passing sight, providing me with historical synopses of each establishment. The Royal Hotel’s Black May demonstrations. The democracy monument. Lottery vendors. Fort Mahakran over the old canal. Wat Rachanatdaram Temple and its unique Metal Castle. King Rama VII’s museum. The United Nations ESCAP building. On our last visit we spent the majority of our time, well, shopping with the girls so it is nice to be given insight on the more notable landmarks of the city.

Once checked in to our rooms (privately quipping about boutique hotel culture shock!), we head to a hawker market for prik pao clams and stir-fried tom yam and chili bean seedlings and salty lime juice and thai ice coffees.

Despite our formidable exhaustion, Dan and I brave the challenge for a visit to the Grand Palace with Poj and Mod. (I think my mentions of Shwedagon pagoda has them keen to prove that the Myanmar temple didn’t quite “steal all [their] gold.” I laugh my way out of their insincere nationalism by saying that Mod might have more gold in her jewelry box than there is for any monument in Canada. What’s important is very relative.)

Mod and I are forced to change from our “slutty” attire into more appropriate skirts. Dan and I are astonished by their knowledge of the grounds. They describe the stories on the gallery walls, informing us about the good and bad gods; they help us explore the Weapons rooms and the Upper Terrace. At the Royal Monastery of the Emerald Buddha, we take our shoes off and watch as they kneel and pray in swift repetitive motions. Dan struggles unsuccessfully with the girls to force a stone ball from a stone creature’s mouth. And just as we are nearing heat stroke, we force a tourist to take a touristic photo of us all, smirking like idiots and squinting against the sun. I never giggle as much as with these two great girls.

We devour espresso ice creams on our way through rush hour traffic to soundcheck. The new Club Culture is exquisitely different from the old Club Culture. The prior venue’s decadence is overtaken by this venue’s underground aesthetic. Police tape wraps around unstable support beams. This old tax building is flooded with graffiti and black lighting. I adore its new ramshackle get-up, especially since its sound system is still sublime.

The speedy soundcheck allows us to linger our good conversations at dinner with good friends. By the time we return to the club it is packed with fans and some familiar faces from our last show here. We share so many hugs with many lovely new friends. The buzz of the evening has our adrenaline piqued. DJ LA French Riot and Stylish Nonsense perform before us, allowing us slightly too much time to get our nerves ready with slightly too much booze. It is way passed midnight by the time we make it to stage. We play a never-sweatier set and feel a riot of madness around us. Bangkok sure knows how to party. I enjoy every glittering minute of it before falling fast asleep in my boys’ arms.