DOUBLE TAKE: The Bronx + Ouch My Face + Mariachi El Bronx – Billboard the Venue (13.09.09)

DOUBLE TAKE – Alexandra Duguid and Gareth Page each give their takes on this highly anticipated concert.

Review by Alexandra Duguid:

I entered the venue to be welcomed by Mariachi El Bronx, the novelty alter-ego of the Bronx and an unusual concept executed flawlessly by the LA based-punk band, who were…well not a punk band in this particular incarnation by playing their own interpretation of Mexican mariachi music. Trussed up in traditional Mexican tuxedos and sombreros, Mariachi El Bronx wowed the crowd, who were probably used to seeing the stage’s inhabitants going mental rather than standing there playing acoustic guitar, trumpets and crooning. It was animated and entertaining, a nice, chiller way to start the night which was going to turn into a complete crazy-fest at any moment.

Filling in the middle was Melbourne local three-piece Ouch My Face with this weird hybrid of pop/hardcore/punk music. It was highly energetic and enthralling, the delicate-looking female front woman going from a somewhat gentle singing voice to deep growls and high-pitched screams from sentence to sentence. Though only a trio, they produced a lot of distorted noise and about as much attitude, which happily filled the venue.

Then of course was the Bronx, a band I know little about but have always been slightly intrigued by. Their performance wasn’t like anything I had seen in a while. It was loud and enigmatic, boisterous and while teetering on violent, it was empowering and positively aggressive. It was this meshing of deep, growling vocals and jagged guitars working together, being pulled along by hard, rolling drums to make punk music you can just let loose to. Particular standouts were White Tar and Kill My Friends, in which frontman Matt Caughthran spent most of the time braving the audience. Though the music the Bronx make isn’t entirely what I am into, there is something different about them in comparison to a lot of the bands they are often lumped in with. They’re songs may be about some of the more down-and-out times, but there is this resounding positiveness to their attitude and performance that made the hectic evening an uplifting one.

Review by Gareth Page:

The Bronx are one of those unique bands who seem to have the kind of effect on their fans that every one of them who likes The Bronx, LOVES The Bronx. Exhibit A would be the fact that on the back of three killer rock albums, the band released a full mariachi album (not as a joke as you may have assumed) under the pseudonym Mariachi el Bronx, and it has been particularly well received by punk kids, rockers and mariachi fans alike. I was keen to see just how The Bronx would go tonight, especially since they were being supported by their mariachi alter-egos.

Mariachi el Bronx took to the stage in full mariachi garb, the big hats, oversized guitars, maracas, you name it. If you didn’t know that this was a revered rock/punk outfit you could be forgiven for thinking that this mariachi group was the genuine article. Without being any kind of an authority on mariachi music, it certainly sounded authentic to me. As a whole it was enjoyable listening, and certainly seemed engaging enough to keep the crowd involved. But I couldn’t help but feel like I wanted them to finish and the real Bronx to hit the stage.

Ouch my Face played a set of edgy, hard edged punk, with a bit of noise/experimental thrown in on top. The tunes were a mix of noise and punk rock, punctuated by fuzzy, crunchy guitars and hard drumming. They were entertaining, the shrill, strong vocals of their vocalist a particular highlight for me, and they definitely gave it a real crack. They were probably hampered by the fact that they were the meat in a Bronx sandwich at this particular show, with most of the crowd beginning to jockey for position as their set wore on, rather than take in the talented band that was in front of them. I think in a smaller venue with a slightly more dedicated crowd, these guys would put on one hell of a show, definitely worth checking out again.

Finally it was time for The Bronx to take to the stage, and their mere presence on the stage whipped the capacity crowd into a frenzy. From the opening track the band played hard and fast, their blend of hard rock and punk being absolutely perfect for a live show. An incredibly large contingent of the crowd was singing word for word through pretty much every song, and the rest of the crowd was too busy rocking out, but I would assume knew all the words also. The frontman commanded the attention of the crowd the whole time, his seamless transition from powerful singing to a scream (not that shitty screamo screaming it is important to note) was very impressive. The Bronx have a way of writing songs that on the whole seem to be pretty simple, but are delivered with such furious energy and noise that each one feels like you’re witnessing some kind of musical history being made. The band did not let up from the first moment that they started playing, and when the singer made his way into the crowd during one of the later songs, it threatened to blow the roof off the venue. As he broke into song from within the crowd, a stack of adoring fans scrambled to get closed, all the while singing every word.

This was an incredible show as a whole, and if you are in any way a fan of punk music, rock music, or just simply live music, you would be doing yourself a gigantic disservice by not taking the time to check out the Bronx. Hey, they might just become your favourite band like everybody else.

Larry Heath

Founding Editor and Publisher of the AU review. Currently based in Toronto, Canada. You can follow him on Twitter @larry_heath or on Instagram @larryheath.