Hard to say anything about Dirty Fingers better than they could themselves. Heralding the release of their 2015 debut Monkey King, the tirelessly wild foursome wrote of their own band: “Dirty Fingers are the rising bastard lords of punk in China, the destroyers of the peace that has established in yaogun [Chinese rock’n’roll] these days, the builders of the new chaos in your mind. You might be worried to let them in (you should!) but no matter your strength, as the wind can’t be destroyed, Dirty Fingers can’t be stopped. The bastard monkeys will rule you.”
And so they do rule, now more than ever. Their list of social bona fides includes getting booted off stage at a Tiger Beer festival that refused to give them beer, jail time, death threats, and more hangovers that anyone who’s ever come into contact with their live show could struggle to remember.
Founded in 2013 and “to be disbanded at any time” (their words again), Dirty Fingers started as a student band, lurking campuses before cutting their teeth properly at Shanghai’s far-flung rock dive Live Bar and Beijing’s School and Temple bars, their homes away from home. (Their members have literally spent nights at each.)
Since forming they’ve steadily accelerated into one of Shanghai’s fiercest and funnest punk bands, mixing blistering tempos with surf-punk guitar mechanics and an infectiously hectic on-stage energy. The lyrics of vocalist Guan Xiaotian give the band cerebral depth, but he never sounds like a scholar — more like a gutter Rimbaud, roasting contemporary social niceties from the sidelines. “Gangster” guitarist Xiaohai keeps their tunes slaloming always on the edge of chaos, while “piano master” bassist Haiming stabilizes the situation just enough for drummer Alex to try his best and derail the train with his inimitably timed upbeat.
The whole is messy as fuck but somehow always works, even when the band has slammed enough beer to drown a master surfer. Dirty Fingers keeps the energy in the room crackling, never taking themselves too seriously but always sounding indisputably essential. Every Dirty Fingers show is a sweaty raucous party, part raunch and part revelation.
Guan Xiaotian - Vocal
Bing Xiaohai - Guitar
Zhang Haiming - Bass
Alex - Drum