It wouldn't be hard to argue that The Bronx are on a steady decline. When the band first played Phoenix, they were at the area's biggest club-type venue, the Marquee. Then, last year, they played the much smaller Clubhouse. Last night, they were crammed into the tiny (but wonderful) Yucca Tap Room.
The size of the venue didn't seem to have any negative effect on the Los Angeles hardcore band, though, as they lived up to their reputation as one of the best live acts around with a wild set that saw moshing all the way back to the merch table, where two diligent employees had to brace themselves against incoming sweaty, bearded and heavily tattooed dudes.
The Bronx is built around singer Matt Caughthran, a short-statured pugilist type who looks as though he actually could be from The Bronx. Or from Jersey. Caughthran has a great yowl, and can sing a bit too, which works perfectly with the band's melodic hardcore style. He does, however, have a reputation for performing drunk, and he was visibly intoxicated this eve, sharing all sorts of offbeat observations ("I feel like I'm having sex and it's a choice between pleasure and safety... and I say we just take the condom off."). Fortunately, being drunk doesn't necessarily inhibit your ability to do the hardcore thing, and Caughthran sounded very good on songs like "Shitty Future" and "False Alarm."
Caughthran also spent plenty of time off the stage, working the already hopping pit in to a frenzy. He did his fair share of crowd-surfing and invited the audience up for a dance-off at one point, with surprising success. Things really only calmed down during "White Guilt," one of the rare slower songs, but by the end of the set ("Young Bloods," "Knifeman," "Heart Attack American"), the area in front of the stage was a tangled mess of bodies. I don't know if The Bronx managed that at the Marquee, but, for me, any band that's still getting that reaction is doing something right.
Last Night: The Bronx, The Revenge, Bullet Train to Moscow
Better Than: I don't know if it was better than, but with The Bronx taking stage just after midnight the show was ever-so-slightly earlier than the last show I reviewed at Yucca, Miniature Tigers infamous 1 a.m. start. Am I the only who really likes it when headliners go on around 11 at club shows?
Personal Bias: I'm not huge into hardcore. I appreciate the best of the genre but, like, I had no idea who Kevin Seconds was until reading our blog yesterday.
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Random Detail: Bullet Train to Moscow -- fronted by Jared Christy, the Yucca bartender who also sings for The Liar's Handshake -- was a great opening act. I'm more used to hearing Jared sing classic country (he does a mean "Daddy Sang Bass" on karaoke nights at the YTR) but he sounded great screaming.
By The Way: "California hates Arizona. I don't know if you knew that but they do. But not the Bronx. We love Arizona -- we hate New Mexico."