Review + Photography by Cain Suleyman

A mere 30 yards away from Camden Town tube station, you come across a strange set of double doors they look like they lead to the ground floor of a block of offices. Only this time, the stairs lead you further down to the depths of one of London’s most popular venues. I am in fact talking about the Electric Ballroom. Many incredible artists have played here such as Muse, Beck and George Ezra. But if you were to be present on the 10th June 2018, you would have been witness to large mosh pits and the screams of one Matt Caughthran. All of this, curtesy of The Bronx. A pure punk rock band from Los Angeles, California.

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It was a true sight to see as the band enter the stage to the sounds of large jungle-like drums to prepare the crowd for a night filled with lots of movement, and maybe a black eye or two. Caughthran enters the stage without a single hint of fear about him. It’s clear that he is very used to this setting as today, he enters the room with a band he has been with since 2003.

It’s not that common to hear of a band to go on for such a long amount of time without dropping down the ranks. We often hear of bands lasting a couple of albums and gradually tailing off, losing touch with the sound they hit the industry with in the first place. This is either because of musical experimentation that goes wrong, or they are part of a genre that has so many artists that fans get distracted by all of the new sounds that are released on a regular basis. But with The Bronx, they have released 5 mammoth albums in a genre whos fans never forget the bands they’re into.

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For the opening song, a pretty simple equation is evident: Punk rock band + song called ‘Sh***y Future’ = chaos of the highest order without any time to warm up. Crowd surfers descend in their dozens to pile on top of the bouncers, punks of all ages push and shove one another and all of this is being orchestrated by this highly energetic 5 piece. The sheer power that the wall of sound carried was enough to knock anyone off their feet and this was constant for an hour and a half.

One aspect of the band that shocked and surprised me was the presence of former ‘Queens of the Stone Age’ drummer, Joey Castillo, who casually walked up behind a kit that had no idea what it was about to go through for the duration of the set. Castillo reminds me of the Tasmanian devil. Kept in a secure cage, he is tame, but open the door just 1cm and you’ve let a monster loose. Rampaging uncontrollably and wrecking everything in sight. I was witnessing a true genius at work as a typical drummer face was seen at all times. This man is well known for his hard hitting, adrenaline fuelled style of play and this perfectly fitted into tonight’s sound.

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If there was ever a song to perfectly show this combination of forces, it’s ‘Heart Attack America’, one of the band’s first singles. A very fast song which, if we were outside, could have caused a tornado with the circle pit that was being demonstrated at the beginning of the song. No orders needed to be dished out, this was just an intuitive decision by the crowd who knew that this was the only way to do the song and the band justice. Having been released over 15 years ago, the song still resonates with fans and everyone seems to know every lyrics without fail. Singing and shouting louder than the speakers, the audience become the singer, as Caughthran allows us to open the first scream of the song.

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It was halfway through the set that a truly brave sight was seen. The band played the protest song ‘Knifeman’ as the venue is shaken by the unison of bouncing from everyone in the room. As the final act of the song reaches us, orders to open up are commanded by Caughthran as he joins us for a moment of madness. He pushes us back further and future until our “backs are touching the walls”. Pointing and screaming in our faces, our simple response is to charge at him so hard that even the two bouncers could do nothing to protect him. A moment that I’m sure will be leaving him very proud, and bruised, in the morning.

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