“We got horse in our food. We got double amputees shooting their girlfriends, it’s not safe to be out there, ladies and gentleman. This is our fallout shelter.”
So says Bronx singer Matt Caughthran in the intro to the track “Shitty Future.” That he says this while wearing a ladies blouse, which has been thrown onto the stage probably tells you that this wasn’t the most serious of introspective nights, but it does neatly sum up The Bronx ethos. They are one of those bands that believes that a punk rock show is a chance to forget your troubles for an hour and, well, frankly, just go crazy.
So do support band Single Mothers , it’s just that no one seems to like them very much. Which is a shame as RTM was quietly impressed by the Canadian’s sound, which was not unlike a heavier Hold Steady playing some Ramones covers in parts. “Brand New Scene” was delivered with passion and set closer “Baby” – which boasted a chorus of something like “Hey Baby, do you want to make a Baby, Baby?” was actually better than it seems. No matter, though, as the crowd cannot be roused and singer Andrew Thompson was leaves us with a “The Bronx next, then you guys can have fun…”
To be fair the assembled throng take his advice to heart and it doesn’t take long for the crowd surfers to come after The LA band take the stage.
The LA based five piece are over in the UK in support of their new album. “IV” which is a quite marvelous affair. Punk purists can argue all day about whether it sounds too polished, but whilst the addition of a second guitarist has perhaps seen them go more “rock” in the last few years, this is still very much a band with a punk rock heart.
Second track “White Tar” from the debut album still menaces with its “got cancer, looking for the answer” refrain and by the time Caughtran has decided to cross-dress, it is a show that just drags you along on its quite phenomenal energy.
Caughtran encourages and cajoles like some sort of viscous ringmaster, but all the time does it with a smile on his face and appears to be just as ready to be your best mate as fight you. I mean, you can’t take anyone too seriously when they make you howl like wolves because you are in Wolverhampton, can you?
Of course, any show cannot survive on energy alone, and luckily The Bronx have belting songs in abundance, the new albums highlight “Too Many Devils” sounds incredible, “White Guilt” is almost perfect pop (which they might not like, but its true), then they can switch to “They Will Kill Us All (Without Mercy)” a screaming punker that Caughtran delivers from the moshpit.
There is no encore, instead “Heart Attack American” and “History’s Stranglers” fair old rip our faces off, and if the stage patter sometimes was too clichéd (“Its Friday night Wolves, lose your minds – are you ready…?” And so on) there is little doubt that the band were genuine in their sentiments.
For 75 minutes tonight, there was a genuine connection between band and audience and some damn fine songs were played, and as such, our time in the fallout shelter was one worth spending.