In 2003, Dengue Fever captured the heart of San Francisco by performing the compilation Cambodian Rocks in its delirious entirety. This was not a mind-bending maneuver for Farfisa organist Ethan Holtzman, former Dieselhed guitarist Zac Holtzman, saxophonist David Ralicke (of Beck fame), Radar Brothers bassist Senon Williams, and drummer Paul Smith. They had found their muse lead singer Chhom Nimol two years before, performing in Long Beachs Little Phnom Penh. Years earlier, on her native Cambodian soil, Nimol had sung for royalty, executing electrifying Khmer dance moves in dazzling gowns. She was a natural star. In 2005, she returned to tour Cambodia with the band, playing Cambodian pop songs, and native fans reconnected with the music that was nearly crushed out by the Khmer Rouge. The band discovered the deeper roots beneath the music, and met Nimols family, which boasted a number of singers from the '70s on. The resulting documentary, Sleepwalking Through the Mekong, is a thrilling trip from both a musical and cultural perspective. Dengue Fever still pops up in S.F. regularly, and its always a wild excursion: This spring, they debuted a live soundtrack for the silent film The Lost World. This week, the band appears at the Outside Lands Music Festival, and members appear after Sleepwalking screenings on Aug. 27 and 28.
Thu., Aug. 27, 7:15 & 9:15 p.m.; Fri., Aug. 28, 7:15 & 9:15 p.m.; Sat., Aug. 29, 2, 4, 7:15 & 9:15 p.m.; Sun., Aug. 30, 2, 4, 7:15 & 9:15 p.m., 2009