Live Music in Thailand

After looking into Thailand’s music scene and industry over the course of the semester, I realized that I have not yet chosen to look into the live music scene in this region. This is especially strange due to how much I enjoy live music here at home – I’ve lost count of how many bands I’ve seen over the years.

For my project, I’ve chosen to look into more alternative music genres throughout Asia, rather than focusing on mainstream artists. This means that most live gigs that I will be talking about will not take place in large stadiums or well-known venues – rather underground bars and clubs, and old houses turned music warehouses.

After doing a quick Google search of live music in Thailand, I was directed to the Lonely Planet’s website that detailed a few alternative and ‘indie’ venues such as ‘Brick Bar’, a basement pub and ‘Parking Toys’, a nightclub in Bangkok that specializes in local electronic music (Lonely Planet, 2014). It was interesting to discover venues such as these – of course, most cities in any country has their own local and underground music scene that we may not know about, but it is a little strange for me to think of this one in particular.

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This got me thinking about why I hold such views. Why is it that it can be so normal for me to experience Sydney or Wollongong’s local music scene, but almost unheard of for the same events to take place in an Asian country?

After asking myself this question, I find that most of my Asian stereotypes in terms of music stem from the huge popularity of genres such as J-Pop and K-Pop that have penetrated the Western music industry, and that we can now hear here in Australia on a daily basis. Due to the sheer magnitude of K-pop artists and songs such as Psy’s Gangnam Style (with two billion YouTube hits, it’s a wonder if anyone hasn’t heard this song) I feel as if though these types of artists are what I primarily think of in terms of Asian music.

Of course, I know that this is a stereotype and a generalization. This is why I think my research into Thailand’s music industry is really helping me to break these views I used to hold. Music is something that I enjoy thoroughly, and it has been enlightening over the semester to be able to broaden my horizons, and quash any clichéd perspectives I used to hold about the Asian music scene.

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8 comments

  1. Great post Keely. Autoethnography is an effective method which allows us to move past cultural stereotypes and build a more insightful perspective. You raised an interesting point about how most countries or cities have their own underground or alternative music scenes. You said that your study will involve looking at underground music scenes across Asia. Are you planning on focusing on coutries in South East Asia such as Indonesia, Malaysia and Vietnam? Or are you looking at countries all over Asia? It would be interesting to see if there consistencies in this particular region of Asia. It would also be great to examine how media facilitates fan’s experiences alternative music genres in live spaces for example; the use of smartphones to film does enhance or detract from the ‘experience’ of live music?

    Just some questions to get you thinking!

    – Caitlin

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  2. Really great post, Keely!
    I find it interesting that you didn’t consider live music which you are so invested in at home. We often see the things we love as ours and sort of forget about other parts of the world. This does seem to be more prevalent within ‘western’ countries, and certainly revives the whole ‘East vs. West’ thing.
    Your autoethnographic analysis is great. I think you’ve really asked yourself the right questions, and even had the sort of epiphany talked about in the reading Chris recommended.
    What sort of digital artefact are you doing for the final assignment? I’ll be interested to see your final thoughts on your topic, as I think you’ve really done well to look at a broad scope with your research and used the autoethnography methodology well.
    Good luck!
    – Gabi

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  3. I think its definitely interesting to look into live music. Live music is so different in different cultures, for my group project we are looking at Asian Hip Hop music – thinking about the ‘hip hop’ music I know it is very different and its interesting to see the contrast in styles and what is classified as ‘hip hop’. This would be a similar idea in ‘live music’ you could look into the set up of the concerts – taking into consideration the venue and how the atmosphere may differ in Thailand to Wollongong (if that was your comparison). Have you thought about other Asian countries and how they differ from Thailand to home or just Thailand on its own as a starting point?

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  4. Hey,

    This was a really great post as I related to it so easily! When I first read that Thailand has a thriving underground music scene, I wondered where? Is it based in Bangkok as I can not see it being prevalent in areas such as Phuket which are heavily populated and built for tourists. It is a great avenue to research as I honestly don’t think I can name one Thai artist, so to find out whether the live gigs and mixes that are played in these clubs are all Thai produced music would be incredibly fascinating! You’ll have to post it for us if you find some!

    Having been to several different countries throughout Asia, I can say that some, such as Japan, Singapore and Malaysia have a thriving ‘underground’ scene, though Thailands’ scene must be very far under the ground as I didn’t see any of it when I was there !! haha

    I look forward to reading more!

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  5. This is such a great post! Until reading this I also didn’t think about thailands alternative live music secene. I find when going to gigs, I find out about other littler bands and really helps you explore that genre more thoroughly. Maybe this week you could try looking into those gigs you have found and see if any other artists you haven’t heard of are playing or see how popular the supporting acts are? And whether or not they are signed on a lable?

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  6. It was a strange feeling reading about live music in Thailand. As we have so much live music, I should expect that it would be the same in Thailand. I guess as our cultures are very different, so our music cultures would be very different too.

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  7. I’ve found your research to be really interesting because before this class I held similar (however slightly ignorant) views about the Asian music scene and culture, and I viewed a strong part of the Asian music culture as being J-pop and K-pop influenced and since conducting my own research into Japanese metal I’ve been able to experience a lot more of that alternative culture and music. I can definitely relate in the sense that music is something I hold very dear to me, so to follow your research exploring Thailand’s alternative music culture has been very interesting!

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  8. Another great post Keely! Your topic always has me so interested!
    I think we get sucked into thinking that k-pop (or j-pop etc.) is the only type of music scene! As you say though, it would be if people thought of Australia as one-direction, just bieber loving fangirls. It just doesn’t make sense!
    It would be really interesting to try and find some alternative magazines or something similar, just like we have here in Australia.

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