Set off to the Electric Ballroom in Camden with high expectations after having seen the alter ego of the Bronx several years ago i.e. Mariachi El Bronx when they supported Gogol Bordello at the Roundhouse.
It was an early Sunday evening start with the support hitting the stage around 7.30. I had undertaken a bit of research for” Culture Abuse”, partly facilitated by Amazon prime as I found their last album on Saturday
They have been described themselves as “kinda grunge, kinda punk, kinda hardcore, definitely a good time. Yes, we like to party.” https://cultureabuse.bandcamp.com
They played a couple of new songs from forthcoming album including one never played live before and then stuff off album “Peach “released in 2016 . They do have some catchy stuff such as “Jealous” and “Turn It Off” which are immediately accessible. On the latter they introduced a reggae break featuring Junior Murvins police and thieves. They do also have some slower numbers in their repertoire and its melody as well as energy that shines through.
All of this was played with a sense of humour and some interesting between songs banter. Vocalist David Kelling suffers with cerebral palsy so his performance changes on the day depending on his condition. “They think I’m fucked up no matter what,” …. “So I’ll just act like I’m partying to make people more comfortable.” https://www.theguardian.com/music/2017/aug/25/culture-abuse-david-kelling-green-day
He joked about not being able to climb stairs at any venues and how pleased they were to be in UK. They are also playing a show at Rough trade east on 2nd July for anyone interested. I think they are more than worth checking out and have to say I am a fan now.
There was also a good anecdote about how they had visited the site of the Clash first Album cover which was shot in Camden Stables area. He also mused about how they were appropriating everything they liked about English music. They have been compared to mixing The Clash with the Ramones stylistically.
They certainly enjoyed themselves and some recognition from the audience, although mooted compared to the reception for the headliners.
“The Bronx” came on and launched at 100% from the off. Not sure when they were last in the UK but I think it’s a relatively rare event. Formed 15 years ago, in my opinion, their latest songs as showcased on Bronx V are faster, harder and more aggressive than previous works. Don’t know if this is heresy to the die-hard fan but this is their best album to date I would suggest.
Where I think they stand out is vocally. Singer Matt Caughthran is able to growl and shout with the best but also has a musicality in his vocals which brings a melodic quality to many of the songs. The current line up is:
- Matt Caughthran
- Joby J. Ford
- Ken Horne
- Brad Magers
To my novice ear they played a selection from “Bronx IV” and “V” as you would expect .Notable songs from memory were “Side effects” ,”Valley Heat “and “Along for the ride”. They also got huge reaction from an old number “Heart Attack American” from the first album.
There was also some theatrics with the singer launching himself from the steps that are situated on the left side of the auditorium halfway down with a back flip onto the outstretched hands below. Brave move I thought and also kicked myself as about 15 minutes earlier had been standing right in that very spot ( good photo opportunity missed).
They played about a 65 minute set and as previously mentioned they were 100% plus from start to finish. I don’t think the evening was completely sold out (the upper galleried area was closed as well) so there was space to move around. On the negative side these guys certainly deserve to sell out. Despite having hard core roots they create a non-threatening and inclusive atmosphere encouraged by Matt Caughthran’s relationship with the crowd.
All killer and no filler you could say.