The first time I saw The Bronx live was on a boat cruise on New York City’s East River. I thought to myself, “This is a wildly unsafe venue because I know there’s gonna be a slam-pit and crowd-surfing, and these railings at the edge of the boat are way too low and someone is probably going overboard.” Fortunately, no one took the plunge. But my old ass wasn’t scared to grab the I-beams and ride the wave because my youth was reinvigorated.
I respect the band’s slight homage to Led Zeppelin by simply numbering each of their albums rather than naming them, their latest adorned with the solitary “V.” I respect that they also have a side project (Mariachi El Bronx) that opened for Foo Fighters on one tour, further proving Dave Grohl’s sense of humor and the collective middle finger of the hardcore punk ethos. Plus, as a New Yorker, I kinda gotta laugh at the fact that a band from Los Angeles is named “The Bronx.”
With their fifth album V, The Bronx show no signs whatsoever of dousing water on the fire. No, sirrah. It might be 2017, but The Bronx is still burning like it was 1977.
As with all punk rock, we need a dose of the political, and the opening track “Night Drop at the Glue Factory” pulls no punches with buzz-saw guitars and the lyrics “Fake news / alt facts / abstract / downhill / so fast / it’s like we’re dying in a time lapse.” Now, from a socio-political standpoint, I suppose these lines could be interpreted from either side of the aisle as an admonition. But when the follow-up track “Stranger Danger” involves the lyric “Witness to a nightmare / victim in a dream” one can’t help but think that this band is thoroughly pissed at our government. And THAT is punk rock.
When the undoubtedly polyp-ridden throat of Matt Caughthran screams “King of the crucifix / lord of the flies / send me an angel / send me a whore / listen up / I got the key to success / kill yourself,” you know that motherfucker is certainly not happy with the state of world affairs.
That said, Caughthran’s brutal vocals are always on pitch. He’s not a “one-note wonder” or simply a death metal growler. Dude can sing and has wonderful control over his raspy voice as he surfs over the gnarly waves of west coast hardcore punk created by the rest of the band.
And while I rarely go see live music anymore—despite living in Austin, the self-proclaimed “live music capital of the world”—my old ass is gonna ride the sweaty crowd as we all take part in mutual frustration and musical stimulation. I need the aggression and the release.
Notable Tracks: “Night Drop at the Glue Factory” | “Stranger Danger”