On Saturday night, US alternative R&B / soul artist JMSN played for the first time in Bangkok, a single show at Rockademy that concluded his Asian tour which has taken him to Korea, China, Taiwan, the Philippines, Singapore and now Thailand over the past 2 weeks.
I’ve always liked Rockademy. Even though I have only attended a few shows here, I’ve just always liked how it’s a very intimate concert venue where it feels as if you could reach out and touch the stage at any given time. This was my first time at a HAVE YOU HEARD? gig at this venue, and I was especially looking forward to it. And of course, I was not disappointed. The lighting work especially was perfectly on point, making the space feel larger than life, and the audio setup was also fantastic.
Opening for JMSN was Phum Viphurit, who has been doing very well for himself recently, gaining fans both locally and notably abroad with his new album “Manchild”, which he released this year. His song “Long Gone” especially has become a huge hit, ticking over a million view on YouTube recently, mainly to a western audience, which is a fantastic accomplishment for an Thai based, English language artist.
I loved how he seemed to disappear into his own world, eyes closed, during specific parts of a songs, always moving, always feeling the music
Phum had prepared a special set for the evening, admitting that he has finished bits of the backing track on the day and only got his computer to work a few hours before the show and many of the songs sounded different from the album versions. I for one really like being able to see sets like this, fresh out of the oven, which give you the feeling that you’re seeing an artist’s progression and development in action. The set was at times slower and more electronic than usual, with “Sweet Hurricane” and “Beg”, which I haven’t seen him play before, my favorites. He interspersed songs with explanations and stories, which nicely made the gig feel more like a Sofar Sounds set than a concert, and then ended the set with “Long Gone”, which the crowd loved.
The atmosphere was relaxed, with people enjoying each other’s company as much as the music, and after a short intermission JMSN appeared, energetically taking the stage. Lead singing Christian Berishaj controlled the audience well, rallying the crowd between songs and setting a clear example of how to dance. I loved how he seemed to disappear into his own world, eyes closed, during specific parts of a songs, always moving, always feeling the music, and also getting involved with his drummer and bassist with little mini jam breaks between verses. One of the first songs “Drinkin” absolutely spellbound the audience, Christian killing it with his powerful vocals. This is the first time I have seen an original R&B / soul artist play in Bangkok, a city where R&B / soul is for the most part a cover music affair, and I loved how much the audience enjoyed it, moving to the music as much as at a electronic gig.
No matter how many technological advances there are, live music is one thing that will never be replicated … and a great gig (like this) is a perfect example of this
The band mainly played songs from the latest album, but also played some tracks from their previous albums. And while there were many members of the audience who were clearly huge fans, there were also many people obviously hearing the band for the first time, and from the looks on peoples faces during some of the best received tracks like “Power” and “Patiently”, the band was making new fans in the room. As their set came to a close, the band bid farewell and exited to the back of the stage. But the crowd wanted more, with solid calls for an encore, prompting them to come back and sing a final song.
I ended up hanging out with some of the band after the gig and spoke to the band’s manager, during which he spoke of how important it is to go out and play live for people as that’s where you make real fans, when people are able to hear your music live and make that connection with you. I couldn’t agree with this more and I saw that firsthand on the night. No matter how many technological advances there are, live music is one thing that will never be replicated. There’s nothing like being there is the crowd, the lights, the people, the sound all around you, the music moving through you – and a great gig made possible by an artist like JMSN and organizer like HAVE YOU HEARD? is a perfect example of this.
Images courtesy of HAVE YOU HEARD?