Rooftop Rock: Jamming with an Indie Thai Band

During this trip I got to jam out with a Thai band—and it was epic.

As a musician, I’ve always wanted to see what it was like to interact with a foreign band through music. To see how a spoken language can become irrelevant when music comes into play. In downtown Bangkok, on a rooftop in the city’s old town, I finally had my chance.

We headed out to Phranakorn Bar & Gallery, a student-run venue that’s been thriving independently now for over 20 years. The place occupies three floors, with the first floor being the bar and art gallery that, when we visited, was hung with immaculate portraits of the late king and the royal family.

downtown bangkok live music

The rooftop at Phranakorn Bar & Gallery. (Outpost/Michael Fraiman)

The second floor was the lounge area, decked out with cozy corners and pool tables. The first was our space—the rooftop bar—warmly decorated with trendy tea lights and fairy lights strung along the canopy.

My new temporary bandmate, Jack, arrived an hour before his set. He explained to me that he was lead singer to two bands, The Rovers and Jack & Co., with the latter group playing tonight.

After we first met, I let Jack do his thing and joyfully watched his pre show rituals. I was amazed to see him organically assemble two mics by cauterizing several wires together. He explained that he likes to bring his own mics to his shows because you never know whose mouth has been on the ones provided. Fair enough.

phranakorn bar and gallery

Jack’s in the back, cauterizing his own mic, while Jess relaxes pre-show. (Outpost/Michael Fraiman)

He was nervous to sit down and chat with me. We had barely just met each other, and hadn’t communicated much besides a few texts with Beetles songs we could potentially cover.

He claimed his English was horrible, but once the cameras were rolling and our beers flowing, he fell right into it. I couldn’t contain my questions, and we wound up chatted about his upbringing in Bangkok and how the music scene differs here from the rest of Thailand. And while his English wasn’t perfect, our passion for the industry mended any flaws in communication. I could tell right away he had been in the hot seat before—he was a natural interviewee.

Rooftop bears and fairy lights—is there a better way to enjoy the city? (Outpost/Michael Fraiman)

Once the cameras stopped rolling, we cheered to a successful night and Jack quickly got onstage to play.

Their first few covers showed off his incredible bluesy voice—something you would not expect coming from his body. He pulled off Ray Charles and Otis Redding covers like they were written for him.

jack & co bangkok band

Jess got up to jam with Jack & Co. (Outpost/Michael Fraiman)

After a couple songs with Jack & Co., he introduced me to the crowd and invited me up to join them for a few songs. We had nothing prepared and zero rehearsal time. Jack and I had only just met and I barely got an introduction to the band

Since we realizes we both loved The Beatles (who doesn’t?), I suggested we play “Come Together”—it fit the situation, right? The band immediately launched into it as if this was a song they played regularly. I pulled out my phone for the lyrics and we pulled off the song pretty well. You can see for yourself, though our professional video is much better—trust me.

It happened. Communication through music struck as if it were its own language and it was magical. I’ve always wanted to know if you could stick a couple musicians from opposite sides of the world in a room together and force them to communicate. What would happen? How would they do it? Well, it kind of looks like this.

Watch the Trailer