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Can't Fault Them

Can’t Fault Them

by Roger Young, images by Kevin Goss-Ross / 31.05.2010

Sometimes people dance to genre, not the actual band. Often you’ll see ska punk fans dancing to some really shitty bands just because they have a brass section and a drummer who knows at least one basic reggae syncopation. Hog Hoggidy Hog are one of the bands that are to blame for this. Seeing them live at Vmacs on Friday night you can totally understand that complete devotion to the genre, because when it’s done this well it’s just unhinged smiling magnificence, like a 70s blaxploitation cop show theme tune filtered through a magic roundabout of metal.

After the first song, looking like Fred Flintstone filtered through a manga fight scene, the lead singer one foot mounts the monitor in glee, his lone dodgy dread penduluming as he mumbly-laughs something to the sound engineer. While the band fiddles with instrument stuff, the guitarist tries to hand out freebies that, typical Durban, get flung around in a bit of celebratory semi moshing and land back, scorned, on stage. A general loose and bewildered air of youth prevails down front for about a second and then the Hogs burst into their punctuated and bouncy harmonic shout-along ska.

It’s not just all trumpet stabs and rimshots though, Hog Hoggidy Hog are tight and restrained, letting go in many ways, at the right moments bursting out into wild heavy guitars, changing pace, holding tempo, swapping out layers and vocals, melding from fist pumping anthems to sprung little punk jumpy numbers in a swift trombone slide. My moustachioed inner voice, Luca, says to me, as he falls out of the mosh for a second, a drunken wild smile on his face, “I’m having Splashy acid flashbacks, it’s like, I know I’ve heard them before but then I haven’t and” then he is pulled back into the giddy refrain of punks; churning like wine stompers.

In the middle of the mêlée stands a leather panted giant battle troll of a man, chains swinging from his belt, pierced and sumo haired. All the tides of mosh bash and ricochet off of him as the Hogs bust, full voice, into the jauntiness of “Sherry Anne” all wild, free and air punch along harmonic. A shoe flies through the air, the stage front is held in happy siege, the brass section jokes around, the bass player smiles beatific as the crowd occasionally spits out a mosher head first onto the concrete, hands reaching out to pull him back in. Kids have started to sneak car bar into the enclosure and the management is having a hard time trying to throw them out, somehow they’re sneaking through gaps in the fences instinctively.

By the time the Hogs bust into their cover of “Spirit Of A Great Heart“, the crowd is exhausted but relentless, they just wont let them get off stage, encore follows encore, a sort of joyous satedness jostles between the band and the audience, when ska is played that good, done with love and genuine enthusiasm and putting out that kind of energy, it’s hard for a crowd to let you stop. And then it ends, the sweaty kids, clothes ripped, peel off to the bar, the fires, the grass banks beyond the electric fence, silent in the experience, with only joints, beer and grins to pass each other.

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  1. Tonto says:

    True dat…The Hogs are the epitomy of punk ska in South Africa.

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  2. the measure says:

    “Often you’ll see ska punk fans dancing to some really shitty bands just because they have a brass section and a drummer who knows at least one basic reggae syncopation”

    And you know this because you’ve interviewed said fans and they’ve told you as much? Or is this a dangerously broad and self-righteous assumption, a superficial behavioral diagnostic made by an amateur anthropologist and “filtered through” a preformed opinion of what is wrong with the genre and the local scene?

    Just asking, that’s all.

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  3. Roger Young says:

    Here we go.

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  4. brandon edmonds says:

    The quality of the comment threads on this site continues to climb. Be grateful Roger. Just bend over and take it…the greased carrot of critique. Ooh yeah.

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  5. You don't know me anyways says:

    ATTN: The Measure

    Shut the fuck up.

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  6. Roger Young says:

    @The Measure

    There is nothing wrong with the genre or the ska punk scene (in my opinion). There are some excellent bands, the Hogs being one of them. There are also some average bands and some shitty bands. Sometime fans of the genre dance to the shitty bands. They’re dancing to the sound of memories of better bands. We all do it. Have you never felt joy from hearing a bad cover version of your favorite song?

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  7. Regal Regenald says:

    Roger, I like this article. Only thing, you didn’t say anything about Creepy hooking up and it wasn’t even mouth rape. I think that’s worth a mention.

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  8. the measure says:

    @Roger – maybe those fans think the bands you call “shitty” are actually good for reasons that they alone can appreciate. I think it’s cool and constructive to voice an insightful opinion about a band’s music and to be honest and unapologetic in the process. But it’s a different thing to make sweeping assumptions about an audience’s tastes and musical values.

    @brandon edmonds – you are beyond ironic and certainly way beyond the known boundaries of sarcasm. A stake in the future of post-postmodernism is yours for the taking. Carpe Diem.

    @ydkma – cool riposte there buddy. It worked for Hitler, maybe it’ll work for you too. Maybe not.

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  9. Roger Young says:

    @the measure – I’ll come clean. I do speak to a lot of these fans. It’s one of the key things I do at any gig I attend and I try filter some of what I hear from the audience into the articles. True, I don’t speak to all of them and yes, maybe they appreciate those bands that I think are shitty for other reasons but my statement is not an assumption, it’s based on opinion culled from those very fans.

    And I’m not saying any of the other bands on the night were those shitty bands that I’m talking about, (I’m not saying they’re not either), it’s a general statement about how we appreciate music based on a melding of my opinion with that of some of the ska punks fans, not only on this night but on the many nights I have spoken with them and from being one of them myself.

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  10. Jem says:

    dont you just love it when some arb person comes on and calls a journalists opinion a sweeping assumption.

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  11. don ceyote says:

    i love it. yes. now i wish they would go away.

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  12. Anastassia says:

    Good point Regal Reginald, certainly old chap, good point.

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  13. the measure says:

    dont you just love it when some arb journalist comes on and calls an audience’s response a kneejerk reaction.

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  14. Roger Young says:

    Sudheim, is that you?

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  15. Hitler says:

    ATTN: The Measure

    Shut the fuck up.

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  16. johnny99 says:

    i agree with roger………stop analysing…..get lives and shut the fuck up

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  17. the measure says:

    Jeez, you gotta love that one. As if Roger’s original comments weren’t a form of analysis to start off with (based on interview research no less). If you’re determined to push the “stop analysing” angle, then own up to the fact that you discouraging music journalism to start off with.

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  18. Roger Young says:

    @the measure

    I’m confused, are you defending me now?

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  19. johnny99 says:

    what part of shut the fuck up did you not understand?

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  20. the measure says:

    No, I’m calling you an analyst and I’m calling johnny99 an idiot.

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  21. Roger Young says:

    Okay, but you’re calling me a not very good analyst, right? Just got to make sure we know what side of the argument we’re on.

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  22. the measure says:


    i un-der-stand all of it. do you un-der-stand that you are un-a-ble to make me to shut the fuck up?

    Maybe someone can translate that into morse-coded kopstamps the little fella if he’s still having a problem?

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  23. johnny99 says:

    leave my little fella out of this

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  24. Anastassia says:

    maybe we should just take all this attention from the measure in a good way. only thing i dont get is that he/she clearly liked the band and yet is averting focus away from it.

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  25. the measure says:

    I have no idea what the band sounded like, I wasn’t there. To be honest, I’m not crazy about the Hogs’ music. So it would be very easy for me to make convenient assumptions about their fans and that’s what I’m cautioning against.

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  26. Anastassia says:

    ah-ha. alright, well its good you brought it up and its been fun, but i think there has been more than adequate substantiation for the opinion.

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  27. Roger Young says:

    @the measure.

    I don’t mean to antagonize but… You are assuming that I made an assumption because it would be easy for you to make an assumption?

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  28. The dude says:

    I bet the measure plays for 7th Son

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  29. T. says:

    I love the Hogs. Spot on: The Hogs are in a league of their own. I read the review, and Im not reading the comments…Id rather live in my little happy punk-ska bubble.

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  30. BM says:

    SA has a full and colourful history of shitty ska bands dating back many, many years. We’ve all seen them, we’ve all cursed them as they warmed up for bands we really did want to see. Not mentioning this would be a dereliction of duty.

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  31. George Bacon says:

    Thanks for the article guys, we had a great time and we all thought the other bands rocked!

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  32. Anonymous says:

    all the bands that night were good, in their own way. its kak when journalists review bands, that are trying to get somewhere with their music, and call them shit, why not get a musician to review a gig next time? and what happened to commenting on the article? seems like most of you people comment on other comments?

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  33. Roger Young says:

    People, my people. I never said any of the other bands were shitty, I made a generalization about the fact that there ARE shitty ska bands out there that some people dance to because they’re ska, not because they’re necessarily good. I apologize for the fact that the Editor chose to use pictures of Fruits N Veggies, as it does look like that’s what I was implying. I have asked them to take them down.

    Here are some of my previous reviews on…

    Fruits n Veggies:



    Sheep Down:

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  34. Matt says:

    Haha you are all so academically wanky. It’s like a circle jerk gone wrong, and overanalysed to death by some aging panel of professors. It’s just music, not wisdom.

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  35. Anonymous says:

    No comment

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  36. Sean says:

    @Anonymous a couple comments up,

    A review is a review, regardless of wether the reviewer is a journalist or a muso or Ben Fong Torres himself. They’re always going to have an opinion about what they’re reviewing and that’s kinda the point. Too many people in SA pat every band on the back because they’re out there doing it and that doesn’t help anyone. I have massive respect for anyone getting up on stage and braving the ire of a crowd and potential reviewers, but if they’re kak they’re kak. Roger’s normally pretty spot on in his reviews and this is no different. There’ve always been kak bands (some made a living off of being kak like the Sex Pistols) and there will always be kak bands, like Matt said, it’s just music.

    Long live the Hogs!

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  37. OMC says:

    any of you guys checked out the music video?


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  38. fourtet says:

    @ The dude

    Ha! Yes please, you are wonderful, thank you.

    @ Roger

    Spot on, as usual… love it.

    Love and warm fuzzy high fives for Mahala’s journalists and supporters, always a worthwhile read… even with the whiney bitching that will inevitably follow anything written insightfully and honestly… good for a laugh, thanks ‘the measure’.

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