It’s a very, very unusually hot day in the capital of London. Sweltering heat to many marking the beginning of summer time before the solstice comes around, and everyone is filling the streets of Camden Town with a very receptive vibe of positivity and feverish happiness. However, considering this is the very same weekend that the awesome Download Festival is taking place, it is incredibly surprising at how many people are not there this year, but are still looking for the nearest gig or party to go to.
Alas after playing a successful debut show at the aforementioned festival, the best band in the world (according to yours truly) The Bronx are swinging by to play their second of three UK dates on this brief summer tour. But I guess the problem for myself in the lead up to this show, is how on earth can The Bronx top this compared to every other show they have played in the UK, when they ante is always being upped? Truth be told, they did. But more on that later…
But as the floor of the Electric Ballroom is slowly filling up for this early starting show, the lone support band of the evening – California’s own- Culture Abuse are up to the task to warm everyone up (even more so) with their raucous, at times trippy take on punk rock. There is a certain nervous and anxious energy from vocalist David Kelling, which comes across as somewhat endearingly awkward yet strangely charming and openly honest, which I feel actually adds a layer of personality and character to the visibly shy front man. But when he screams and hollers in that mic, he becomes a totally different animal. Additionally, being backed with the brilliantly scuzzy racket that the rest of the band amass with their instruments, Culture Abuse collectively create an interesting, at times psychedelic energy in their own translation of punk rock and all of its impurities. A short, sweet, yet intriguing set from some clearly rising starts in the echelons of punk rock music. Keep an eye out for these guys for the rest of this year… especially with the release of their debut album Bay Dream – out now on Epitaph Records!
But in between sets, I notice there is something special in the air. The vibe is very pleasant, tight knit, and a lot of friends, family, and that instinctual ‘something’ that is putting everyone in a great mood. Even attending tonight, I decided to take my best friend to his second ever punk rock show (after three missed opportunities to see The Bronx) for his birthday, and to let him have his second ever crowd surf! But as we wait for The Bronx to come on, the energy slowly changes in to another level of knowing, which if this mystical energy could be translated in to words, it would spell out.. “GAME ON!”.
The Bronx come on stage and launch straight in to the adrenaline shot of ‘The Unholy Hand’, and then the crowd went from 0-70 mph in an instant. It should be textbook by now that every show that this band do is a guaranteed set of pure fire bangers, mixed with a rowdy and up for it crowd that would always physically, mentally, and spiritually match the energy that The Bronx bring every single time. However whilst the crowd was not as overly chaotic as usual – due to the other mentalists being at Download Festival still more likely – a very special and beautiful moment happened half way through the set…
Guitarist Joby J. Ford – usually famed for his bad ass stage presence, serial killer stare, wry grin, and aura which would not go out of place in a Quentin Tarantino movie, candidly showed off his more paternal side this evening. As it became evident that he brought his family along for the tour, the special occasion marked his daughter’s birthday, to which the band and the crowd sang happy birthday to her, whilst being greeted with a sweet birthday cake. Moments like these are a nice change of pace for a chaotic band like The Bronx, and this is just a very, very real reminder that punk rock is not just about music, it is about family. Moments like tease makes the performance transcend in to something truly wonderful, and for that we as the extended family got to help The Bronx’s inner circle celebrate. So on behalf of every one in attendance, we all hope you had the best birthday ever!
But as the show therefore picked up from where it left off, the vibe in the room became even more joyous than already anticipated. Vocalist Matt Caughtran diving off balconies during ‘Six Days A Week‘, turning the dance floor in to a war zone during songs like ‘Knifeman’ and ‘Past Away’, among many other white hot tunes – including the rarely played ‘Under The Rabbit’, and wrapping it up with a manic version of ‘History’s Stranglers’, it was all so very brief yet flt like a KO punch to the senses. But just as we thought the night had ended, the band come back on to perform one last song… ‘They Will Kill Us All (Without Mercy) – (F.Y.I. – one of my favourite songs ever). So for one final round, the entirety of the Electric Ballroom became no man’s land. But my oh my, what a way to finish a set!
Again there is only so many times you can really talk about one of the best bands in the world without repeating yourself too much, but tonight was something a lot more personal and a lot more communal. For that reason alone, this was a very special show to which it felt more akin to a family gathering, a celebration, and just an all around great time to which everyone of all ages and backgrounds were invited to come and enjoy – without losing a moment’s pace or substance. A wonderful evening all around!