Live Review from The Underground 13th Year Anniversary Party:
1. Let’s Get It On
3. Way That It Goes
5. Sexy Bitch (您好性感)
6. Gals Are Guys
9. Ska Song
A long night of rock was brought to a close by The Mongcocks, a rowdy gaggle of punks led by lead singer/guitarist Brian Woolsey. After the slick professionalism and showmanship of The Boogie Playboys, the ramshackle cacophony of this ska-tinged four-piece felt rather jarring. But this was party music, played fast with wild abandon by a band who doodle dildos on their setlist and are clearly proud of the city they live in.
It was soon obvious that ballsy shouting over rapidly-strummed open chords and jaunty beats was the band’s MO, as they kicked off with Let’s Get It On. After a few technical difficulties with drummer Mike Lee’s kit, the band followed with Mini-Bus, a slightly repetitive song that echoed the lo-fi punk of early Green Day in its power chord progressions.
As the performance wore on, it became clear that guitarist Judy Hai was the star of the show. Head and shoulders above her bandmates in terms of talent, she showed off dexterous fretwork with a snarling precision throughout the speed punk frenzy of Way That It Goes. Meanwhile, bassist Matt Kanoff’s bumpy riffs began sounding jolly and danceable, but soon grated in their repetitiveness and lack of originality.
Ramones-style yelling and raw, rapid snare-cymbal drumming defined Sexy Bitch (您好性感), which saw Brian and Matt join voices for the shouty chorus. Then, The Hives met The Offspring for the oi-punk-influenced tune Gals Are Guys, which was later explained to have been inspired by an eye-openingly wild night out in Thailand for Brian. “These girls are lies,” went the hilarious lyrics, underpinned by a simple, descending bassline.
Matt picked out a “super-fan” Callum, who was leaving Hong Kong soon, and started up a chant of “fuck you Callum!” The sentiment was clearly lost on most – only about eight people joined in. It was a relief when Judy stepped to the front to lead the next song 689, the strongest of the set so far. A punter sprayed beer into the crowd, instantly opening a mini moshpit as everyone ran for cover. Judy relished the lyrics “fuck your mother”, as she sang very slowly over fierce guitarwork.
The Mongcocks sped things up for Ska Song, which took everyone back to the days of dancing their teenage feet off to ska punk bands like Less Than Jake, Reel Big Fish and Goldfinger. Brian put his guitar down to concentrate on singing, once again letting Judy’s musicianship shine. “We’re not taking requests,” the frontman told the beer-spraying punter ahead of final song Wasted. The band got stuck into classic rock riffing scattered with more off-kilter, ska-inflected rhythms, recalling the likes of Dead Kennedys and Dropkick Murphys. Although their setlist could have done with more polish and original ideas, the rapidly-rising Mongcocks brought a raucous party atmosphere and sense of optimistic fun befitting The Underground’s big one-three.
– El Jay