Live Review from Planetrox China Final 2018
1. Things I Hate
2. Kids will Riot
3. Shout Out
5. Noisy Neighbours
6. Society of The Working Class
Aggressive and controversial, Two Finger Salute were the first runner ups. The five-man grunge punk band formed of Phil ‘Oi’!’ Gough (Lead vox), Tim Norton (Guitar, vox), Paul Bullseye (Guitar Vox), Simon Griffin (Bass, vox) and Glen Lewis (Drums, vox) all have their roots in working class Britain which forms the identity of the band. Their cathartically loud songs speak about the difficulties of life across the social-economic spectrum from their first song Things I Hate listing out ‘Politics’, ‘Barbie girls’, ‘The Media’ and ‘You’ (most importantly you), right through to their last song Society of The Working Class which has the important line ‘The working class are fucking proud’; Two Finger Salute never for a second lets you forget where they came from.
The band’s performance on the night had very few problems. Mainly playing songs off their most recent album Anger and Pride, the performance was fresh and full of passion and aggression. The crowd (which by the second half of the night now was pretty tipsy) loved every second. There were very few dull moments in their short set. Despite only playing five songs, Two Finger Salute showed us that they are diverse masters of punk. Their first song Things I Hate is straightforward grunge: heavy, aggressive and loud, full of anger and full of yelling; their second song ‘Kids Will Riot’ continued the rage but shifted the focus from loudness to more intricate rhythms with a slow intro and a ska-esque guitar. The third song ‘Shout Out’ was a complete 180 spin, a much happier song with Beatle-esque backing harmonies, high guitar parts and celebratory lyrics to contrast the ‘I fucking hate you’ from Things I hate. I should also probably mention that out of all the bands, Two Finger Salute seemed to be the calmest, which was ironic because they were also one of the most aggressive. They were the only band to fully utilize the stage by having Phil sing off the stage and interact with the audience (they often play at the Wanch so this sort of audience interaction must come second nature) – special mention has to go out to Glen whose drum set slid away from him in the middle of a song and laughed through the entire time our stagehands were pushing the set back towards him, never did he miss a beat.
However, is the band for everyone? Not necessarily. Phil’s singing voice is a growl, clearly an artistic choice, but it makes the lyrics, which are often well written, hard to hear. It goes without saying that for a band whose identity revolves around punk and all that that encompasses (working class culture, rebellion, lots of noise), people who are looking for ballads and sappy melodies should stay away because you’re not getting any of that here. What you will get, and what we got that night, were five brilliant musicians with similar backgrounds and stories to tell. The stories are not often nice, they don’t skimp words, they don’t use euphemisms and they don’t care if you, or their neighbour, thinks they’re too loud. Suffice to say, they do what they want and they do that well.
– Cyril Ma
Ruts DC live in Hong Kong
1. Things I Hate
2. Marching On
3. Working Class Hero
4. Kids Will Riot
5. Shout Out
7. Money & Run
8. If Kids Are United
9. Noisy Neighbours
Who better to support visiting veteran rock than Two Finger Salute, one of Hong Kong’s most incisive and irreverent punk outfits? The band flung themselves into anarchic action with Things I Hate, a hilarious laundry list of… you guessed it. The group’s lead singer, or “enforcer”, as Phil Oi likes to be known, rattled of a burn list that included politicians, the media and even smackheads in his distinctive, almost gurgly bark that recalled The 4-Skins’ Gary Hodges. Decked out in a Fred Perry shirt, jeans and maroon DMs, the frontman strode the floor while belting out anti-establishmentarian lyrics.
With an energetic set and simple song formula, the band showed that, while they don’t take themselves too seriously, they’re a tight unit of seasoned performers and command considerable respect on the scene. Second track Marching On, a song about the skinhead life, even briefly featured Moy from HK punk peers Oi Squad on vocals.
Raucous rhythms, group shouts and fast guitarwork defined the band’s sound, which blended the insouciance and fervour of classic oi! acts like Cockney Rejects and The Business, along with the bar brawl tumult and joint chants heard, more recently, in early Dropkick Murphys and even earlier Trail of Dead. Songs came hard and fast, punctuated by bellowed ‘oi’s, blurry-handed strumming and angular solos.
“To all our mates on this scene wherever they come from in the world,” Phil dedicated Shout Out, which combined a jangly indie melody with a distinctive vocal hook and a neat solo.
From a groovy opening riff by bassist Simon Griffin, the band segued into Skinhead, another song about skinheads. “He’s a skinhead!” went the lyrics, with woah-woah-woah backing vocals, cymbal-bashing exuberance from drummer Glen Lewis, and joint guitars from Paul Foster and Tim Norton that took on an almost motorcycle level of revving noise.
“Time for a singalong if you know the fucking words,” shouted Phil. “If you don’t know ’em, fucking learn ’em.” Sure enough, plenty of punters joined in the chant: “When the kids are united they will never be divided.” The singer’s face screwed up with the vehemence of his words; a call to arms and threatening missive to the powers that be.
As the band powered towards closer Noisy Neighbours, Simon wiped the sweat off his bass in anticipation as guitarist Tim Norton began playing the same three chords that had underpinned several of the other songs in the set. Phil’s chant about his neighbourial beef became angrier, the music became unhinged and wild to match. Meanwhile guitarist Paul Foster spun out a neat, note-bending solo, and the tempos shifted a final time before the woahhs faded away.
Two Finger Salute did the city proud, opening for a legendary British group while firmly hammering their own stamp on the night. With all the hallmarks of a great punk performance, their set was a joy to behold.
– El Jay