Rehearsals and Parking Toys Gig 1
It all commenced on December 30, 2013, (well a few days before that if you count the 8 hour rehearsal days) through to January 13 2014, when International Rock’n’Soul Specialists PlanB embarked on the 4th international tour, rocking numerous stages in Bangkok Thailand despite the threat of a coup and an imminent city wide shutdown
With band members arriving progressively toward the end of December, two rehearsals were booked on the outskirts of the city at Showtime Studios. For the first time the horn dingoes were using an iPad based system to display their charts. The stand broke in the first few minutes of rehearsals, however luckily the resilient Showtime manager (a pretty handy fellow) created a new stand salvaging the base of a cymbal stand and a cut back music stand head. This became the stand for the iPad chart system and went on to perform admirably throughout the tour.
PlanB’s 2013 debut album “Too Late The Hero”, included a ballad featuring Dubai based vocalist Samira Saunders. With some sneaky behind the scenes footwork by Sneaky Pete, the band were joined on stage for this number by Bangkok local, the very talented Eam aka Arriya Ruchikachorn. A consultant for a Japanese packing firm by day, Eam is also a keen vocalist and happily agreed to sing the duet with Brett on stage at the majority of gigs on the tour.
After two full days of rehearsal and with some 30 songs in the repertoire, PlanB went on stage for the first time in Thailand on the evening of the 30th at one of Bangkok’s premier rock venues “Parking Toys”. PlanB was contracted by Khun Pisit to perform one 75 minute set earlier in the evening.
Parking Toys is a venue in the classic rock style, situated on a highway on the outskirts of town amongst numerous body shops and car wreckers where the venue no doubt got its name. After a sumptuous slap-up meal just a short walk from the venue at the local Thai BBQ restaurant and a couple of Chang beer towers later, the band went on stage and ripped out 17 tracks for the early bird customers before the second band was due to perform.
The band delivered a solid performance and was well accepted by the small but enthusiastic crowd. There were still plenty more gigs in the offing to polish both performance and show.
New Years Eve - Quince Eatery & Bar and Iron Fairies
Although PlanB was initially booked to play Sharky’s Bar in Phnom Penh for NYE, a late cancellation resulted in the band deciding to focus their ‘That’s Entertainment’ tour solely on a country in which they had never previously toured. The fact that a number of members had previously lived in Thailand, pointed towards Bangkok being a logical next choice for a tour destination.
After months of leg-work involving countless international calls to venues for gigs in the lead-up to the tour, it was not until the very last moment that the band was able to lock in a performance for NYE in Bangkok. And then it wasn’t just the one gig, PlanB was eventually booked to perform at two venues on the last night of the year, the first at Quince Eatery & Bar in the lead up to the count down and then in the early hours of the morning at a magical place appropriately called ‘The Iron Fairies’.
Quince Eatery & Bar
Quince Eatery & Bar turned out to be a very upmarket affair with wealthy Thai patrons and expats enjoying fine food while sipping wine and smoking cigars. The band performed two low key sets finishing just after the countdown, then quickly packing up instruments before moving off to the second venue of the night, the vastly more interesting The Iron Fairies.
The Iron Fairies is a bizarre bar/restaurant which has an industrial/victorian theme. The layout is three dimensional with staircases leading to multiple tiered levels in what seems an almost haphazard manner not dissimilar to a Escher drawing or Harry Potters study. The rhythm section were set up on a platform some three meters up a spiral staircase with the horn section on another platform slightly higher connected to another wall with vocalist Brett wandering around the establishment while singing with the aid of a wireless microphone.
The PlanB performance commenced at 2 am and had the band playing a mammoth two hour set to a small but enthusiastic audience. Click the link below to hear a rendition of the classic Peter Gunn recorded on the night.
Bottom’s Up and Parking Toys Gig
After two jam packed days of rehearsals followed by back to back gigs, the band took a brief hiatus in the form of a couple of gig free days. These were spent wisely by several band members catching up on lost sleep however shooting also commenced of the two video clips that had been planned to take place during the tour.
The first clip to be shot was for ‘Maggies’, a light hearted calypso/ska number that appears as track 5 on PlanB’s debut album “Too Late The Hero”. The music video treatment called for various street shots of all band members. The first two members to be photographed were John (guitar) and Peter (bass). John was to play the part of a street drunk and Peter that of a fame crazed rockstar. Naturally both roles were completely out of character and difficult for the guys to master ……. well maybe not so difficult…..both gentlemen taking to their respective roles like a fish to water.
The next gig for the band was at an upmarket bar in Thonglor interestingly called “Bottoms Up”. Coincidentally, the bar was located a short distance down the road from The Iron Fairies. Although the band played several tight sets, PlanB’s brand of high energy rock entertainment was not the best fit for the venue. The majority of the patrons were either outside smoking hookers (not to be confused with the other kind that generally don't get smoked) or inside sipping expensive glasses of red wine.
With another few days before the next gig the band went back into video shooting mode. This time Adrian (keyboard) was shot in one of the local massage parlours having his head and feet seen to by a couple of female masseuses. Brett (lead vox) was shot in a walkway over what is probably Thailand’s busiest crossroads and the Horn Dingoes made their video appearances on a street side next to a BBQ stand.
The next show was to be our second performance at Parking Toys. Taking advantage of additional access opportunity to the venue, the band arrived early to shoot some live footage performing “Three Steps Closer”, the second film clip slated for filming during the tour and which features the band’s trumpet player Rob Williams. The clip will include cutaways to the band performing live at Parking Toys.
Once the shooting was over, the band had a slap up meal just a few doors down the highway at a BBQ restaurant, donned their stage attire and performed another 3 sets on the Parking Toys stage. Once again the venue did not disappoint, with the staff and clientele eating up PlanB’s brand of horn’s rich high energy entertainment.
Londoner and Saxophone Pub
The Londoner is very much an English style bar (ironically enough) located downstairs on Bangkok’s famous Sukhumvit Road. It’s quite a large venue and band members had visited it for drinks several times prior to the gig in order to get a feel for the place. In fact the outside of the bar makes an appearance in the Maggies film clip which was released in the 2nd quarter of 2014.
The corner stage is normally populated with Filipino cover bands playing note perfect renditions of Pink Floyd, Queen and Dire Straits tunes to audiences who calmly carry on scoffing chips and beers whilsy actively taking no notice of the music. As such it was with some trepidation that PlanB took to the stage for three sets of predominantly original material on a Thursday evening.
As it turned out there was no need for concern. PlanB’s raw energy and enthusiasm made the day (or the night as the case may be). While none of the patrons had seen or heard of the band before, by the end of the night they were dancing and cheering the band to a two song encore.
The next gig was to take place in what is probably Thailand’s most internationally famous Jazz and Blues venue, the Saxophone Pub. While the band didn’t play a full evening slot it did manage to treat patrons to a 30 minute set of original numbers on a Friday evening to a packed house.
Probably the most exciting gig of the tour, PlanB ripped into a short set taken primarily from the band's debut album Too Late The Hero leaving punters wanting more.