2015.12.12 :: Mariachi El Bronx :: Brooklyn Bowl London

Posted on Tuesday December 15th in

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2015.12.12 :: Mariachi El Bronx w/ Craig Finn + Pounded By The Surf :: Brooklyn Bowl London

Words by Matt Stocks
Photos by Trudi Knight

It’s Saturday night in London town, and the Brooklyn Bowl is jam-packed with weekend gig goers by the time tonight’s first band coolly strolls out on stage.

Pounded by The Surf has to be one of best band names ever, and it’s also an accurate representation of the music that they play. Featuring Bronx members Joby J. Ford (guitar) and Brad Magers (bass), and rounded off by drummer Vincent Hidalgo and guitarist Thaddeus Robles, the Californian four-piece deal in the kind of instrumental surf rock that Dick Dale and his Del-Tones would be proud of. Their costumes of cowboy shirts and Stetson hats add an understated layer of authentic cool to their stage show, and their set of expertly delivered originals play out like the soundtrack to a lost Quentin Tarantino or Robert Rodriguez movie: if you’ve seen Pulp Fiction or Desperado (who hasn’t), then you’ll know what we’re on about. Special mention has to go to Joby Ford too, for playing the first of three sets tonight with a broken hand. Respect.

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Next up it’s time for an acoustic set of punk rock sing-alongs courtesy of The Hold Steady’s Craig Finn. He may not be as well known over here as troubadours like Chuck Ragan, Brian Fallon or Frank Turner, and if we’re honest his vocals and arrangements aren’t quite on par with those guys either, but his sense of story telling and the sincerity and passion with which he performs ensure the large crowds gathered are captivated for the duration of his set, even if 45 minutes is a little ambitious. It’s a Saturday night after all, and people have come to drink, dance and be merry, and welcome in the festive season with the mother fucking Mariachi El Bronx.

Finn winds up his heartfelt collection of songs by inviting out the boys in Pounded By The Surf, who switch from surf rock to country & western and add a touch of honky tonk cool to his final number, by which point people are pretty much salivating at the thought of what’s about to follow. Once again, full kudos to Joby J. Ford for pulling off some righteous slide guitar with a broken hand.

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Two sets down. One to go. And on to tonight’s main event…

You have to applaud the musicianship of a group of hardcore punks that fearlessly lend their hand to playing traditional mariachi music, and with such fervour and conviction too. Make no mistake: this band is no novelty sideline or part-time pursuit. The Mariachi El Bronx are the real deal. It’s also a dazzling spectacle to behold live, and the Brooklyn Bowl feels like the perfect place to witness it – this is actually their second time here this year, the first being their extraordinary Valentine’s Day performance back in February.

Just as El Bronx’s songs are perfectly suited for a day that celebrates love, they’re equally a match made in heaven for Christmas and all the joy that the festive season brings. A rounded collection of songs off all three of their (excellent) albums makes for a pretty staggering set list, and the band pull out all the stops to make sure the sold-out venue is flooded in feelings of exhilaration and positivity, as well as noteworthy levels of inebriation. They even bring out Santa Claus (disclaimer: it may not have been the REAL one, as this one seemed a little drunk) to hand out 48 roses during the song of the same name.

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We would say that tonight was the perfect end to a great year of gigs at the Brooklyn Bowl, but the boys are set to return for Round 2 tomorrow in the original guise of The Bronx, with Frank Carter & the Rattlesnakes as their special guests.

As it stands, it was as good a penultimate show as anyone could ask for. We just hope our hangover has gone by tomorrow, as we prepare ourselves for the onslaught of carnage that is sure to ensue.

Knockdown
Alley

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