The last time LA hardcore punk mob The Bronx played this intimate venue on London’s outskirts the city was in chaos. It was the worst night in London of the infamous country-wide violence that occurred over those few days in August last year, and front man Matt Caughthran’s cries of “they riot in the streets because there’s not enough money to share” during opening song on that occasion ‘Knifeman’ seemed oh-so relevant. Thankfully tonight the streets are quiet, or at least as quiet as can be expected for a Friday night, and the only chaos this time is contained inside the venue itself.
First up are Londoners Blasted, whose high octane rock ‘n’ roll seemed to fit right in with the sound of The Bronx themselves. Unfortunately we didn’t manage to catch much of their set but what we did see sounded good, and the response after they finished their final song seemed to indicate that a good time was had by all.
Next to step up to the mark were Northern Irish rockers Axis Of. Their brand of simultaneously heavy and melodic rock overlaid with vocal harmonies gives them a sound akin to the bastard love-child of Biffy Clyro, Torche and Dananananaykroyd. It’s an impressive musical display and they also ooze charm tonight as they invite the tentative crowd to gather nearer the stage, chattering with them comfortably between songs. Tonight is apparently officially the first night their début album ‘Finding St. Kilda’ is for sale and if the performance here is anything to go on they deserve to go far with it.
It’s not long before The Bronx swagger out and take their positions on stage, immediately tearing into the first song of the evening causing the floor to erupt into a sweaty, flailing mess. Along with some old classics, there is a lot of new material being aired here tonight, with the band having announced before the tour their fourth self-titled album is set for release in February. The new songs get a good reaction given that inevitably the majority of the crowd aren’t going to know any of the words unless they’ve been to numerous dates on the tour; this does mean that when the familiar songs do crop up, everyone is whipped into a further frenzy. ‘Inveigh’ is suitably hectic, ‘They Will Kill Us All (Without Mercy)’ is a raucous sing-along and sees Caughthran diving into the crowd multiple times, and even new single ‘Ribcage’ gets a great reaction. If there was to be just one set highlight though it surely has to be the anthemic ‘Shitty Future’, with the declaration that there is a feeling that “this should be the end of our lives” as Caughthran moves throughout the crowd and remains there for the entirety of the song encouraging everyone to jump around to their hearts’ content. The man almost need not be there, as it almost feels as if everyone in the room is screaming every word back at him in an attempt to drown him out.
As the set draws to a close we are all encouraged to make some noise as it has been four years since the latest Bronx release (although it doesn’t feel they’ve been away that long) during which time the band has released two further self-titled albums as their alter-egos Mariachi El Bronx. This show serves to show that they still well and truly remember how to write the intense music they were originally known for, and that next year’s release is going to be an absolute stormer.