(Photographer - Tim Doig)
Mariachi El Bronx, the Charro-suited alter-ego of LA punks The Bronx, have built up quite an impressive following over the past couple of years. This has never been more evident than with tonight’s crowd, which is made up of an even mixture of OG Bronx fans and El Mariachi Bronx-only listeners.
There’s noticeable anticipation in the air as fans wait attentively in front of the stage for the curtains to go up. When they eventually do – a little earlier than scheduled – that anticipation transforms to into the kind of outright enthusiasm reserved only for the rarest of bands.
Singer Matt Caughthran is understandably all smiles as the group dives straight into a set that generously includes material from all three Mariachi El Bronx releases, with newer songs such as ‘Right Between the Eyes’ sitting quite comfortably alongside proven crowd favourites ‘Cell Mates’ and ’48 Roses’.
A couple of tunes in, Caughthran unexpectedly suffers a slight wardrobe malfunction in the form of a broken belt. Ever the professional, he manages to soldier on while somehow keeping his pants from dropping to the floor for another few minutes, until finally using the downtime between songs to discuss the rather awkward dilemma he is facing with the very amused crowd. Luckily, someone relatively close to the front of the stage willingly sacrifices their own belt for the greater good, and in no time at all the show is back on track.
The outright affection the audience has for the band is obvious and, judging by the looks covering the faces of the eight wonderful musicians populating the stage, the feeling is mutual. Caughthran, in particular, expresses his gratitude to the livelier-than-hell Melbourne fans any chance he can get. ‘You arty types love you some Mariachi music,’ he jokingly observes at one point while sporting an ear to ear grin that remains firmly in place throughout the evening.
Between broken belt buckles and declarations of love for the audience, the fantastic tunes keep on coming with little signs of slowing down. ‘Revolution Girls’, ‘Wildfires’ and ‘Poverty’s King’ all go down an absolute treat, with everyone in the room utterly enthralled (I myself am so transfixed by the music coming from the stage that a return trip to the bar becomes close to impossible).
Time seems to fly by at an insanely fast pace during their flawless set, and before we all know what’s hit us, Caughthran is already wrapping things up, informing the crowd that they are ‘contractually obliged’ to attend the after party, a statement that is met with a response almost as positivl as the music proceeding it.
After an extended encore, the band vacate the stage for the very last time; and while the audience could easily go for another couple of songs at least, deep down we all know just how spoilt we have already been.
Tonight’s show proves to be the kind of end-of-week gig punters dream of, but rarely receive. It’ll certainly be hard to top in the coming months by any band visiting our shores. In fact, one suspects that none will even come close until Mariachi El Bronx kindly grace us with their presence once more.
(Written by Ben Mengel)
Mariachi El Bronx | 170 RUSSELL | 10.4.15
Photographer - Tim Doig