Dengue Fever
"March 2, 2008"

Cambodian flavored, surf lounge pop band Dengue ("Den-gay") Fever took the stage to a receptive audience of over 200, Sunday, March 2, at the Arden Gild Hall, deep within the wooded confines of Arden, Delaware. The hall's a pretty close-quarters venue. Not a bad seat in the house, great stage, sound, and ambiance. The all wood interior gives a very artisan feel.

Opening act Cordero hail from Brooklyn, New York, and for about an hour pretty easily won over attendees with their friendly rapport and richly woven style of Latin indie-rock. "Rock" seems far too limited a term for either Cordero or Dengue Fever. Singer Ani Cordero has a softly forceful, beautiful voice, singing entirely in Spanish, about topics from personal freedoms to intimate loves. She also played electric guitar, adding texture under bright, festive keyboards, or stabbing upwards with single note ascensions.

The keyboard player played trumpet, as well, adding even more to the authentic feel. The bass lines were catchy, sometimes gently repeating over and over, and in other songs up front to hook people onto the groove. The drums were on, and the band hit several very high points that had everyone totally in tune with them.

The headliners exceeded the steep expectations built around their new release, "Venus on Earth." The more upbeat songs from the disc had even more juice live, with several members playing while jumping up and down. They nailed everything, never losing control even at the most dizziest, through sweat and ear to ear grins worn by each member from the connection forged with the audience. A few songs shone even brighter with Cordero's trumpet player reinforcing Dengue Fever's saxophonist.

The drums busted into a hip-hop beat but in double-time, while the sax player tore out every precious note like it was his most important breath. Guitar and bass seemed effortless, moving like perfect light beams across the stage floor. The smokier, more exotic songs were that much more hypnotic, especially with singer Chhom Nimol right in front in all her pint-size powerhouse glory, rather than as some abstract, invisible phantom heard only on a sound system.

It was difficult not to watch Nimol constantly, even with her band mates' focused energy pushing the audience to get up out of their seats. She never stopped moving, in perfect time with each song, regardless of mood or tempo. Waving her hands and smoothly slinking around the stage, almost always smiling and gracious for the warm, loud applause. Her voice is a pretty amazing gift, sweetly surrounding listeners or blasting through emotional intangible with fearless spirit.