On Saturday morning Jeremy woke up sweaty, sore and mildly delirious. We were supposed to go to a Thai music festival, Kolour in the Park, that night. But some 7 hours before he had hit the nadir of a ghastly bout of gastroenteritis. He had committed the ultimate whiteboy wasted sin of vomiting in a Starbucks bathroom before staggering back to the hotel, shivering and murmuring sour nothings. I watched him shakily grip a TV remote while an IV snaked from the veins on the back of his hand to a rickety, foldout IV drip in our Bangkok hotel room set up by a portly Thai doctor who spoke broken English. This singular fellow tried to reassure us by touting his wares as “God’s medicine;” he smirked and told Jeremy to smile after administering three gnarly shots up the ass, and just shook his head while Jeremy started dry-heaving into a garbage can.
It seemed unlikely that J would leave his cot for the day, much less start raging. But when Henry and I returned to the hotel that afternoon, fresh off a five star lunch and a cavalcade of new plans, Jeremy announced that we would be going to the festival after all.
This looked like an extraordinarily bad idea. We had already missed the last shuttle, and Jeremy’s self-health-awareness, is, er, lacking: I’ve carried him out of a crowd passed out at least once. (Admittedly he’s done the same for me.) Still, we agreed, and trudged downstairs, to scrounge up a cabbie who would shlep us an hour outside the city and back.
Our approach was underwhelming, despite our tropical surroundings: trash littered across the roots of six skewed palm trees; a man hunched knee-deep in a deadwater river; a preteen selling cigarettes and candy out of a roadside stand.
But as walked into the festival grounds, the scene became nearly utopian. We were greeted by brightly colored tents selling homemade wares, charming wooden drink stands, a trampoline. Miles outside the deadly sticky city, blood orange flags waved in the breeze. Men and women in wetsuits wakeboarded on a pristine lake. And we were surrounded by the most beautiful women in the world, each wielding a different accent or language.
In the late afternoon, Festival founder Coran Maloney spun for a breathable but enthusiastic crowd: his builds drawn out and gentle, acting more as a mood backdrop than a driving plea for attention. We grabbed some food from the stands: fresh and delicious, although the mixed drinks were both flat and too strong. As the sun set, we took turns flailing and tumbling around in a giant plastic hamster ball on the water.
By the time we made our way back into the crowd, it had filled out, but not oppressively. Snippets of American voice samples began to make their way into the sets, and the beats diversified in tempo and timbre–more space, and more brass. A guy in a storm trooper mask did fist bumps–there’s always one of those at every festival–while a wasted girl struggled to dance upright. The festival’s strict drug rules, combined with the level temperature, seemed to keep most relatively sober compared to your average Gov Ball. (I won’t rule out the idea that one of us found a smoke from a friendly neighbor in the crowd, though.)
To cap the night off, I got a massage from one of two professionals there–she cracked my back and stretched out each finger carefully. Close attention to detail, guided by the human touch: these attributes drove a delightful, proudly-niche festival. Would highly recommend for anyone recovering from a medical disaster.