THE BRONX – Corner Hotel, Melbourne : March 2011

Matt Caughthran, lead singer of The Bronx.
Matt Caughthran, lead singer of The Bronx.

The atmosphere was electric as anticipation mounted for The Bronx’s only Australian headline show as part of the Soundwave juggernaut that swept through the continent. This multi-faceted punk band, hailing from Los Angeles, has managed to harness the power of punk with the true grit of rock and simply bring the noise to every gig. As iconic label Everlast states: ‘Nothing soft comes out of the Bronx’; so too does nothing soft come out of a Bronx gig.

The Bronx is a powerhouse band of epic magnitude. With a distinct sound, massive following and of course, the one and only Matt Caughthran at the helm, it was little wonder the Corner Hotel was heaving like an exasperated asthmatic, with every inch of carpet, beer-soaked bench of the bar and pot littered square of the dance floor crammed full of people keen to encounter the ferocity and passion of the band.

Rumbling out of the barracks like a raging bull, Caughthran’s appearance on stage sent the throng into an absolute vehemence, as the front rows surged towards the stage. Bodies crunching, elbows flying, crowd surfers hauling themselves up onto stranger’s shoulders. It was insane, and such a liberating experience. This ocean of untameable thrashing moshers was, however, peculiarly offset by the static set onlookers surrounding them; only moving when a wave from the front swelled towards the back, knocking people aside with its force.

Running headlong into their set with adrenaline at fever pitch , The Bronx powered out songs such as L.A Lady, 6 Days a Week, Around the Horn, Los Angeles, Inveigh and one of their much earlier numbers, Strobe Life, which cranked the crowd’s crazy gear into overdrive.
With Caughthran announcing that Melbourne was by far their most favourite city in the world, except of course for their home of LA, you knew that he genuinely loved the response he was receiving from the well versed crowd. And there is absolutely no denying Caughthran’s charisma, tenacity and sheer vocal talent. At times it was hard to remember that there was even a band up there on stage, so magnetic was the front man. He is a fantastic display of talent in a body that you would least expect to house such an enormous display of aptitude. Without a hint of pretence, nor a shroud of egotism, with his unbuttoned shirt open to reveal a tattooed chest and non- ripped abs, Caughthran divulges a person who is real and unrelenting in his performance.

The Bronx’s appeal lies not only in their thrashing live sets or well loved eponymous rock albums. For me, it sits with their brilliant lyrics, which displays an intelligent band whose versatile lead singer can switch from his crowd surfing, head banging, tattoo toting punk rocker image, to sing lead in his alter ego band, Mariachi El Bronx (which quite frankly is one of the most spectacular albums that I have had the pleasure of listening to of late). Just don’t mention Mariachi at a Bronx gig. It’s like mentioning your love of 30 Seconds to Mars at a Terror concert. It’s just awkward.

Despite my sore calves, sweat soaked t- shirt, drenched hair and loss of hearing in my left ear, I felt like I had rocked this gig out good and proper. The only way a Bronx gig should be done.

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