When the headline band has fucked off, leaving you to fill the top slot and pull in the punters and the money; when you’ve not had a soundcheck and your guitarist breaks a string in the first song, these are the things that can pile on the stress during a gig. But not it would seem if you are Oki Dog, who waded through these misfortunes with a cheerful shrug of the shoulders.
Oki Dog are an eclectic Noah’s Ark of a band: a Pakistani drummer (Kemikal Ali), guitarists from England and Germany (Flip X and Kennedy), a Spanish bass player (Hugo Santacruz) and fronted by a cheeky Chinese lass called Grace. They’re a good looking band, oozing artfully crafted cool, who play an energetic, punky Rock Pop, full of sexy licks and catchy riffs.
Playing at The Metro in London, one of the capital’s pokey little venues, but blessed with a decent sound system, Oki Dog became the default headliner when The Fucks announced they would not be playing that night. Supporting Oki Dog were Zil, a band we recommend keeping an eye on. Looking like they stepped right out of the early 80s, Zil mixed and matched The Durutti Column, Roxy Music, New Order and Human League to inspired effect. Guitar sounds blended with sequenced parts and electronic drums to sound like Heaven 17 given the buzzsaw treatment.
Oki Dog didn’t so much appear on stage as stumble onto it. The guitar tuning and impromptu line check segued into the first song, Fendi Gucci without most people realising. The Metro’s engineer did a good job of making Oki Dog sound good from the start, so by the time second track, Chinese Girl, came along (after a quick guitar change and tune-up thanks to the previously mentioned broken string) the band had hit their groove.
Chinese Girl with its catchy chorus “Why don’t you eat me, baby? I taste like lychees, honey” deals dismissively with white guys who want a Chinese girlfriend, what Japanese band Mika Bomb describe as “Rice Eaters”. It’s a fucking great song that sets up camp in your brain and refuses to budge.
Oki Dog zipped through their short set—highlights included Saturday Night and my personal favourite, P45, also known as Blue Ass Fly, with Grace’s swooping, idiosyncratic vocals—and was over far too soon.
Stumbling into sodium-lit night of Oxford Street with the songs still jangling through my head I felt like I’d seen a pretty good group surviving the hard knocks the London gig circuit can throw at a band, but wishing I’d seen them in a fuller venue with a proper soundcheck. My advice, check them out if you can: see their website for gig listings.
Metro Club, London, UK
(1 Sept 2005)