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Review: Together Festival 2013

Few music moguls spark the sort of pandemonium that Snoop Dogg does. I can state this with some assurance because I recently ventured all the way to Bangkok’s Together Festival to witness the LA rapper first hand, alongside A-list draws from the world of electronic music such as Justice, AN21, Max Vangelli and more.

While such a colourful, curious and eclectic line-up might seem out of place in Europe, nobody at the second Together Festival seemed to bat an eyelid. Indeed, the very fact that a host of western ‘superstars’ were touching down at the city’s indoor Bitec Bangna venue was deemed enough to bring the rest of the city to a proverbial standstill – all in spite of the fact that at between 1900-2700 baht (£40-£60), the tickets were far from cheap for Thai standards.

But where there are riches, bitches and bling, Snoop Dogg (or should that be Snoop Lion?) is never usually fair away. And to give him his dues, the man best known to his mother as plain oul’ Calvin Broadus still puts on some performance. Dressed head to toe in black and white (and donning the sort of glasses that would make John Lennon proud), Snoop blazed (in more ways than one) through a set that featured some of his best known hits, not least “Gin and Juice”, “Drop it Like it’s Hot” and indeed, a number of his collabs with Dre such as the surefire party starter that remains “The Next Episode”.

That few of the Thai-based audience actually understood the meaning behind each song mattered little, as they gave it their all to each and every one regardless. The night’s biggest cheer however, was reserved for when Snoop hooked up with Thai rap band Thaitanium. To the westerners in the crowd it was by some distance the oddest aspect to the night, but the home crowd lapped it up in their droves regardless.

AN21 & Max Vangelli followed soon after, and as has become the duo’s forte, they had the entire crowd bouncing up and down for the duration of their rave-heavy, Swedish House Mafia-esque inspired set. The visuals proved an impressive accompaniment to the on stage antics too.

French electro-house duo brought the curtain down on one of the most sense-assaulting nights I’ve ever witnessed, with a DJ set that never quite reached the same highs as their live sets from years gone by. Maybe they’ve lost some of their va-va-voom? Either way, they

never seemed capable of re-creating even a semblance of the atmosphere stirred up by The Doggfather.

Nights like the one in question I was told, are pretty unprecedented in Thailand. But with over 8,000 people in attendance, it’s quite obvious that the merging of urban and electronic music works well here. With another similarly scaled festival due in April, it’s further indication not only of Thailand’s preoccupation with Western culture, but also the relentless behemoth that is contemporary electronic music culture. It might have landed in South-East Asia a bit later than most, but Thailand evidently, is doing its utmost to make up for lost time.

- Stephen Flynn

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