These gigs are the type where those assembled are politely encouraged. “I want the drinkers to drink, the moshers to mosh, and the crowd surfers to get the fuck up on stage!” bellows The Bronx‘s frontman Matt Caughthran.
Less than 10 seconds later Heart Attack American has barely got going and the floor has exploded into a buckling scrum of flailing limbs, pint bombs of not-so-cheap student lager splashing everywhere, and exposure to grim body odours.
After a year-long absence from these shores, this round of dates begins a fairly road heavy campaign for The Bronx in support of their third album, due in a fortnight.
The new songs appear less representative of their rawer, more ferocious early material. Knifeman and Young Bloods both plough a much more melodic and anthemic direction with the cursory nod to ’80s hard rock, but both fail to stand out in a set which otherwise chucks three minute cluster bombs of fury one after the other.
“I promise you this,” announces Caughthran at one point, “We’ll never put out anything that’s shit.”
Their first two albums were gritty modern tales which won them the respect of punk and hardcore kids. Perhaps that statement was a justification: “It’ll do,” in other words.
Not to say that one of LA’s finest acts are mellowing out completely. This is our fourth encounter with them, and the intensity and carnage of their early shows remains, fanned by frenetic couplings of They Will Kill Us All and Cobra Lucha, or Around The Horn and History’s Stranglers.
Bodies fall one after the other atop us; many hands rub necks, clutch jaws and nurse rib cages. In the spirit of punk gigs everyone is quick to help each other out – even the guy who is too drunk to keep his eyes open and remember he’s just taken a swing at someone and missed.
Beer, brawling and bruises. Yes, The Bronx are indeed back.