Can’t Fault Themby 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.