Gig / Concert: The Bronx w/ Mariachi El Bronx, Cancer Bats, Violent Soho
Venue: The Mod Club, Toronto, ON, Canada
Date: 29 March 2010
Headiner: The Bronx
In One Word: Stonking
Wow, what a line-up. Headliners Los Angeles’ The Bronx with their Spanish alter-ego Mariachi El Bronx and Toronto’s best metal/hardcore two-for the Cancer Bats – you only need to glance at the tag cloud to the right of this review if you have forgotten how keenly we’ve been following and championing these bands in recent years. Needless to say, it promised to be a stonking show and did not disappoint one bit.
First though, I think I might be having words with our Australia-based writers to ask why I ain’t heard a squeak about Brisbane’s Violent Soho till tonight. I missed the start of their set, but Violent Soho only needed 10 minutes or so to make a good impression, with an engrossing set of grunge rock. Were it not for the Aussie accents heard during a bit of stage banter between songs, you would have been easily forgiven for thinking this was an American band, perhaps even from Seattle itself. Violent Soho are an actively gigging example that the influence of grunge music is an undying legacy and one which can still be borrowed from closely to create music that is more than just a straight rehash. “Son Of Sam” and “Jesus Stole My Girlfriend” are two songs with titles that may seem somehow familiar to you, being similar to the names of two popular covers of The Vaselines that Nirvana recorded, and the similarities do not end there with this band sounding a lot like Nirvana. If the NME catch wind of Violent Soho then it’ll surely be milliseconds before they proclaim them as “the new Nirvana”.
Grunge ain’t dead it’s just coming up for air, and if bands like Violent Soho become part of a third wave grunge movement then I for one will be happy. It’s fortunate that they’re currently touring North America with a band who are one of the best examples of modern hardcore done right, (The Bronx), and maybe that tour experience will prove to be an inspiration to them. An even bigger support to the band though must be their 2009 signing to Thurston Moore’s Ecstatic Peace records, through which the band have released their self-titled debut in North America.
After a quick enough turnaround Mariachi El Bronx took to the stage and proceeded to raise smiles on the patrons in the Mod Club with a jovial set. Mariachi El Bronx have a very different stage presence to The Bronx. It was a much more casual vibe which makes sense given the music, the instruments and the traditional mariachi attire…not to mention that the band needed to keep plenty in the locker to play a whole other set later on. The musicianship was good, with the trumpeter and violinist having some particularly impressive moments in the limelight during “My Brother The Gun” and “Holy”.
The introduction to “Despretador” which Matt Caughtran announced by saying “this one goes out to all the online predators in the house” is one of the funniest intros I’ve heard in a while, and of course apt to the song. However, the real story of Mariachi’s set came when Caughtran announced that two winners from a competition by 102.1 The Edge were to come on stage – it’s been a long while since I’ve ever bothered to listen to that station with that playlist but since when did The Edge ever play The Bronx? The mystery was solved when it became clear that this was nothing to do with a competition and was a bluff – a guy called Mike had invented the scenario as an opportunity to get down on knee on stage to propose to his girl Renee. She said yes and the Mod Club erupted with cheers and applause. What a touching moment! First time I’ve ever seen that at a gig.
Whenever anyone back home in UK or outside of Canada asks me about bands here in the Great White North one of the first names I always drop is Cancer Bats, and their set tonight only reinforced my opinion of the band. With their next album Bears, Mayors, Scraps & Bones set to release in a fortnight, Cancer Bats gave fans a sneak peak of what they can expect to hear from that by playing a couple of new songs. The latter of these new songs, “Scared To Death”, made a bigger initial impression on me. “Scared To Death” has a throbbing, chugging riff by guitarist Scott Middleton, the riff is the spine of the song, the beating engine, powering you on a ghost train journey to thrash heaven, population: you. Scared To Death was followed by the distinct squeals of “Sorceress”, (a track with a fitting ‘train-wreck’ lyric to go with that previous spot of waxing-lyrical), before they finished with “Lucifer’s Rocking Chair”, another song from 2008’s Hail Destroyer.
And so to The Bronx, who predictably enough played an ass-kicking set, or as Matt Caughtran put it at one point as he dove through the audience, “tore the Mod Club a new arsehole”. With their Mariachi outfits hung up for the night, The Bronx stepped things up a few notches and played a set comprising the best moments of their three albums too date.
It’s been over a year since I last saw The Bronx live and whilst the set list was familiar it was still great to see the band again, though I envy anyone who was seeing the band for the first-time because as the old adage goes, the first time is always the best. While there were few surprises by the performance of The Bronx, that’s a good thing and testament to their qualities as one of the best live bands you could ever hope to see right now. The only real surprise of the set was the guest appearance by Fucked Up’s Damian Abraham for the penultimate song of the night, but even that wasn’t a big shock given the similar cameo appearance he recently made with Dinosaur Jr. Abraham wasn’t the only non-Bronx member to take to the stage, because for fleeting moments at least one of Violent Soho took to the stage to stage dive, while I also spotted Dom Muldoon from Sixteen Layers do the same, as towards the end many inhibitions were lost and a free-for-all was encouraged.
A great night and how lucky the new fiances Mike and Renee are to have such a brilliant gig to remember their proposal by. Best of luck guys.
© Brian Banks, Music Vice
Photos of The Bronx, Cancer Bats, Mariachi El Bronx and Violent Soho