Live Music in Phuket
In the previous articles in our series about Thai music, we have looked at the main genres of Thai music and some of the major Thai stars of those genres. Let's finish off this series by taking a look at the live music scene in Phuket.
Thais love live music and a good band is the centrepiece of many bars in Phuket. In fact, you can go to just about any town in Thailand and there will be bars with bands playing live music.
We have to say that one of the main criticisms made about the music scene in Phuket is true -- almost all the bands are playing covers rather than performing original material. In the tourist towns, they are generally playing covers of western songs. However, if you are willing to get out of the tourist towns and visit a few Thai bars you will find Thai bands with talented musicians playing Thai style music. They are still playing covers but at least they are Thai style bands playing Thai covers.
What is a typical Thai style band? Well they mostly play either rock or peua cheewit (Thai songs for life). The band will usually have the classic set up of guitars, bass, drums and maybe keyboards. The rock bands tend to be very energetic. The peua cheewit bands are more laid back and like to interact with the audience, share a few jokes and take requests. Many of the bands like to switch singers with members of the band taking turns or calling up new singers from off stage.
Although these bands are mostly playing Thai songs, almost all of them have a small collection of western classics in their repertoire. It is amazing how many times I have walked into bars anywhere in Thailand and as soon as the band sees a western face in the bar, they play one of these songs to please the foreigner. It seems like every band in Thailand can play 'Hotel California'. The peua cheewit bands like 'Take me Home Country Road' by John Denver. The rock bands love to blast out a full-on version of 'Zombie' by the Cranberries.
Let's start with a quick look at the music scene in Patong. The bands here are very much aiming at the tourist market.
Many of the restaurants and bars along the beachfront road have live music. It is mostly soft background music for the diners to enjoy their food. They are usually just singers accompanied by a piano, a guitar or even just a music box. They play covers of old western classics.
If you want something with a bit more musical depth, you need to go to one of the music bars. There are a few bars around with western musicians. Scruffy Murphy's on Bangla Road and Molly Malone's on the beach road both have live bands with western performers playing a mixture of rock and Irish folk. Saxophone on the beach road north of Bangla also has western musicians playing a blend of rock and folk.
Heavy metal fans head to Rock City, on Rat-u-Thit Road at the junction with Bangla. Every night they play covers of metal classics from the likes of Metallica and Motorhead. They have a great set up and a very good band. The beer prices are a little high.
Tai Pan at the top of Bangla has a regular live band playing sets between the DJ sessions. Margerita, also at the top of Bangla Road, is another nice bar with a regular live band. There are many other smaller bars around with live music. Tum's bar on Soi Seadragon is worth a look for some live music with a cosy atmosphere.
A few of these bands will throw in the odd Thai song but they are mostly playing western covers. If you want to hear a serious session of Thai music then you need to get out of the tourist towns and head towards Phuket Town.
Timber Hut on Yaowarat Road is the most popular music bar in Phuket Town. It is a compact bar and is busy every night. They have an energetic live band playing from 10pm to 1am. Most of the customers are Thai but it is also the most popular bar in town with foreign customers so the band tends to play a mixture of Thai and western songs.
For something more Thai oriented you could try Sure Garden by the canal near Soi Taling Chan. They have a popular peua cheewit band that pull in a solid crowd every night.
One of the most popular peua cheewit bars is out of town on the road between Patong and Tesco Lotus. Easy Corner has an excellent peua cheewit band and has a good crowd every night. Going from Patong, it is on the corner of the next set of traffic lights after the Caltex station lights.
For lively rock bands, you need to head to one of Phuket Town's discos. There are popular rock bands at T2 (next to Metropole Hotel on Tilok Uthit 1 Road), at Sofa (on Dibuk Road), Blue Marina (at the bottom of the Merlin Hotel), Kor Tor Mor and Aykasake (both near the traffic circle on Chana Charoen Road.
Thai Music -- Genres & History - An introduction to the main genres of Thai music and their history.
Thai Music -- Mor Lam - An introduction to the stars of Mor Lam (Thai folk music).
Thai Music -- Luke Toong - An introduction to the stars of Luke Toong (Thai folk and country music).
Thai Music -- Peua Cheewit - AAn introduction to the stars of Peua Cheewit (Thai songs for life).
Thai Music -- Pop - An introduction to the stars of Thai pop music.
Thai Music -- Rock - An introduction to the stars of Thai rock music.
Live Music in Phuket - We finish our series about Thai music with a look at the live music scene in Phuket.