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Hard Rock Café Bangkok: The Enigma of Popularity

Hard Rock Café is a pustule on the face of Bangkok nightlife. Yep, this place is nasty and there really is no way to sugarcoat it.

Look, KohSpot gets that sometimes you just want to listen to music you grew up with, eat food you’re familiar with and that in the 80s, there was some type of cultural cache that came with wearing a Hard Rock t-shirt for the venues you’d visited. There was also cache to wearing British Knights and Members Only jackets, but we stopped participating in that shenanigans over 20 years ago. In a city like Bangkok that has so many clubbing and bar choices, to choose one with such a rancid atmosphere boggles the mind. The other thing that boggles the mind is that despite offering very little in the way of a good time Hard Rock Café Bangkok still does good business. We’ll chalk it up to the fact that there is nowhere else to drink in Siam Square unless you opt for Spicy.

Here comes the banter, Hard Rock Café Bangkok plays the softest “Hard Rock” KohSpot has ever heard. Desperado? Air Supply’s I’m All Out of Love? Men at Work’s Land Down Under? While My Guitar Gently Weeps? There was even a request for a Michael Buble song. We actually felt some of our massive supply of  bravado dwindle a little bit.  Sure, GNR was part of the playlist later in the evening, but in general the music played at Hard Rock Bangkok is the same music you tell your friends you don’t listen to even if you do. There isn’t much about the Hard Rock Cafe that is Rock n Roll. We will give the band credit because they didn’t play Thaipop, but that’s not an endorsement to visit this soulless vessel.

Because you’re supposed to believe you’re part of some grand tradition, there are framed guitars from Clapton, Cheap Trick, Guns N’ Roses and Nancy Wilson of Heart. You’re also supposed to believe potato skins are part of America’s culinary history.  Chicken fingers, whatever those are, round out a menu of overpriced and cheeky dishes that remind us a lot of the frozen food section in a grocery store. Pizza poppers, shrimp shooters and nachos.

For some reason, the alcohol here is more expensive than at some hotels. Bottle of Black Label for over 3,000 baht? Thanks. How about a virgin daiquiri in a collector’s Hurricane glass for 550 baht++? Aw, you’d do that for me? The wait staff is enthusiastic, and that helps, even as they wear their required pieces of flair. But unfortunately one of those pieces is a whistle, and these folks take the opportunity to work out their lungs every five minutes at ear-shatteringly close range. After philosophizing on the motivates for such inane behavior  we failed to come up with an explanation. Did we mention Hard Rock Café Bangkok has its own gift shop? WTF

You’re probably wondering who goes to such a bar. It is farang for the most part, some tourists, some expats with Thai “girlfriends”. There are a few Thais who mistakenly think this passes for good entertainment. And then there’s the handful of confused Japanese businessmen, asking the waitress if there’s anywhere they can sit that isn’t so loud.

While we appreciate that the female lead singer wears a black lace glove with the fingers cut off ala Madonna and the band’s musical talents aren’t half bad, there are a lot of better choices for hard rock lovers, including The Rock, which is only one Skytrain stop away.

Hard Rock Cafe Bangkok
Location: 424/3-6 Siam Square Soi 11, One block down from the Siam BTS. Just follow the huge neon sign.
Mass transit: BTS Siam
Hours: 11:30 am-1 am daily
Phone: 02-658-4090
Website: www.hardrock.com/locations/cafes3/cafe.aspx?LocationID=4&MIBEnumID=3

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