LIVE: The Bronx @ Gorilla, Manchester

By Tom Walsh

The downside of the summer festival season is the dearth of regular club shows. For those that decided against shelling out hundreds of pounds to slop around a field in Leicestershire or road-tripping across Europe, the sunnier months can prove to be relatively quiet affairs.

It does mean, however, that when a band on the festival circuit takes a moment to hang out in an unbearably humid venue, it is a treat to those that didn’t fancy four-days in Donington. Therefore, it is no surprise that the “sold out” signs are hung up on the doors as The Bronx take to the stage at Manchester’s Gorilla.

“Oh we’re going to have some fun tonight,” front man Matt Caughthran informs an audience that is already shimmering in a layer of sweat. The LA punks slam straight into the chaotic opener ‘The Unholy Hand’ and the Gorilla floor begins to resemble an ice rink as fans slip and slide on a surface coated in beer and bodily fluids.

Following a winter album tour of ‘Bronx V’, the newer material such as ‘Night Drop at the Glue Factory’ and ‘Side Effects’ feel like seasoned classics. Every note is flung back with a vigour normally reserved for tracks that have stood the test of time. Caughthran plays the conductor expertly as always, directing traffic and wise-cracking when The Bronx allow very brief moments of respite.

The front man is the enigmatic focal point of the five-piece and has the audience under his spell throughout. Amid the carnage let loose during the anthemic ‘Shitty Future’, Caughthran manages to hush his adoring public for a five-count before letting them loose on the breakdown with the mere instructions of “drop this shit”.

Hopping down on to the floor, mobbed by the masses, he opens a space. He takes a moment for everyone to calm before embarking on a rambling anecdote about life and love, how we should all take care of each other during these testing times and, more importantly, prepare to dance. There are not many better ways to introduce The Bronx’s emblematic anthem ‘White Guilt’.

The slightly slower number does come as a welcome relief but there is not much time to bask in this as a double header of ‘Knifeman’ and ‘Around The Horn’ turns the temperature back up. They squeeze the last drop out of the audience with the huge closing track of ‘History’s Stranglers’ before Caughthran slaps the hand of each and every outstretched soul.

The decision of not visiting the open air cauldron of Download Festival seems to have been a wise one for everyone in attendance at Gorilla. These are the settings that The Bronx seem the most comfortable, getting dirty in the dive bars where the air is thick and energy is intense.

A summer treat of this ilk can always make up for missing being in a tent that manages to leak on the second night.