You know it’s going to be a riot whenever LA punks The Bronx roll into town and Tuesday’s gig (the first of two) in a tiny, sweaty venue in London was no exception. Here’s what we made of it...
The Bronx, live in London
LA quintet serve up a punk rock masterclass
You haven’t got much of a chance when supporting The Bronx
Despite arriving on stage half an hour later than billed, three-piece Tigercub still end up playing to a half empty Oslo. Their grungey, noisey songs cause a slight stir in the crowd and a song with the working title Riff Cunt shows promise, but in all honestly they are the salad and The Bronx are the burger – they’re just in the way. This isn’t entirely their fault though, as any band undercarding The Bronx would undoubtedly meet the same fate at a gig like this.
The Bronx ignite any venue they play
With the intimate venue now packed and no barrier in sight, we’re ready for the main event and after a fist-pumping intro track The Bronx, fresh from Sonisphere, come out swinging, straight into the scathing Knifeman. Vocalist Matt Caughthran is already on top of the crowd one song deep and as Shitty Future kicks in and kicks off, we’re assured from the off that this is going to be one hell of an evening. Big characters with big songs, the five-piece just about fit on the tiny stage. The Unholy Hand screams from the speakers next, capturing all the energy that makes punk rock so invigorating with a huge chorus to boot, something The Bronx have perfected over the years.
Matt Caughthran’s energy is violently infectious
Renowned for his on stage antics, Caughthran is bursting with energy throughout and it’s hard not to get swept up in it as he dedicates I Got Chills to Joey Ramone. Jibing about the venue name (“I thought we were playing Norway, but that’s two weeks away ladies and gentleman”) and generally being mischievous with a devilish glint in his eye, he runs the show in a way other front men will never master. A mass of bodies fills the air as They Will Kill Us All (Without Mercy) gets a furious outing, still sounding as vital as it did over a decade ago and White Guilt is announced as The Bronx’s love song to London. Reminiscing on the band’s first gig in London at the Barfly (a venue not much smaller than Oslo), Caughthran leads his band mates into False Alarm, as they once again get lost in the music with the audience.
Everything else aside, music is the reason we’re all here
Sometimes, we forget how lucky we really are to get to see so much amazing live music. Tonight we see that this is a thought that’s not wasted on the musicians themselves, as Caughthran explains just how cool it is to play music all over the world and how grateful the band are that people come and watch them. The band then slow the pace slightly for an intense run through of Strobe Life, Caughthran sharing his microphone with bassist Brad Magers as his has given up the ghost. Not ones to bow out quietly, The Bronx then tear through a blistering rendition of History’s Stranglers, riling up the crowd to boiling point before Heart Attack American causes utter pandemonium, with limbs and riffs flying absolutely everywhere.
The Bronx 7 – 1 London
After a thrilling solo-filled, extended version of Around The Horn, The Bronx are gone. They came, they saw and they indeed conquered, with a perfect mix of showmanship and thrilling music. As we filter out downstairs, we see a TV in the bar that says Germany 7 – 1 Brazil, which is exactly how you feel after a night with The Bronx. You can give it your all, but they’ve still got the upper hand by a ridiculous stretch. Hopefully the second night will offer up more of the same.