LA punks get down and dirty in Europe's porn capital...
Odd place, Amsterdam. On the one hand, it’s one of the cleanest, friendliest, prettiest, most liberal cities in Europe, where rows of narrow, Lego-like buildings house a ruddy-cheeked population as fond of bikes as they are outsized red cheeses. Yet the most civilised capital city in Northern Europe is also a hotbed of stag weekend-compatible vice, with flagrant use of soft drugs and basements advertising Hot Fucking Live Shows at its schizo centre.
And so to misleadingly-named LA hardcore types [a]Bronx[/a]. Along with [a]Distillers[/a] and [a]Icarus Line[/a], [a]Bronx[/a] are one of the bands at the vanguard of the City Of Angels’ current rock renaissance, peddling frill-free bursts of good-time keg-party punk. Their gigs normally end with singer Matt Caughthran (whose future career as a Vegas lounge singer would be a cinch were it not for the tattoo that reads PUNK MUSIC on his neck) rolling around on the floor half naked in the middle of the crowd. Yet behind their mosh-mad antics beats a heart of darkness: former single ‘Stop The Bleeding’ is introduced as a song about “the killing of innocent people”, while it’s followed by another former single called, cheerily, ‘They Will Kill Us All (Without Mercy)’.
All of which bleakness is at odds with tonight’s surroundings. The plush Paradiso is a former church with a neat village hall atmos, managed by people who believe the optimum start time for a headline band is half past eight. This means that as[a]Bronx[/a] rip into, say, the 500mph goth-punk hammerblow of ‘Bats’, the spring sun is still creeping in through huge bay windows. Plus, it being a Monday night,
the place is pretty much only half full. Dutch audiences are generally well-heeled, polite and very, very stoned anyway, which means that the beery shirts-off crowd-surf heroics [a]Bronx[/a] usually feed off are entirely absent.
They opt instead to play very fast, very loud and very short: almost exactly on the stroke of nine Matt drops his mic and they amble offstage. Still, 30 minutes is enough for [a]Bronx[/a] to exhibit both a depth and a wink that removes them from
the grimacing Warped Tour rabble: few other hardcore bands would dare to play a fragile version of buckskinned hippy
icon [a]Neil Young[/a]’s early-’70s anti-smack anthem ‘The Needle And The Damage Done’. Still fewer would be able to make it sound so good. But – oh yes – just like Amsterdam, [a]Bronx[/a] thrive on contradictions. Much more fun than anything the red light district has to offer, this is a different kind of Hot Fucking Live Show.