w/ Regular John, Mint Chicks
03.02.07 @ HiFi Bar, Melbourne, AUS
Never tell Joby J. Ford that being a punk rocker is an easy gig. During The Bronx’swhirlwind tour of Australia as part the Soundwave Festival, Ford somehow managed to severely damage his pelvis. A lesser man, or perhaps a saner one, would have cancelled the rest of his tour dates and been on the next plane back home to LA, instead the lead guitarist gritted his teeth, rolled out a wheelchair and continued to rock out; a fact for which the lucky few that turned up at the HiFi Bar on a Friday will be forever grateful as they got to witness one of the finest punk rock acts going around in action.
The night got off to a flying start with some strong support acts. Regular Johngave a good acquittal of themselves as they warmed up a crowd that was slow to build, while the front man of the Mint Chicks channeled his inner Cedric Bixler as he thrashed and danced like a madman.
But this night belonged to The Bronx.
Watching these blokes in full flight is akin to seeing a cyclone tear through a country town; such is the reckless abandon with which they play. The only thing that remains incomprehensible is how Ford is the only member carrying serious bodily wounds. The star of the show is undoubtedly lead vocalist Matt Coughtran. When he wasn’t dancing on stage, he was hurling himself headfirst into the mosh pit as he crowd surfed his way around the venue.
In the face of such energy and enthusiasm it was impossible not to get caught up in the excitement and the punters lapped up every second of it, responding with a furious energy of their own. It also didn’t hurt that The Bronx is comprised of more than competent musicians as they belted out one frantic track after another, “History’s Stranglers,” “Heart Attack American” and “Notice of Eviction” being among the standouts.
After an hour and an encore that all seemed to finish up way too quickly, The Bronx took their leave, wheelchair in tow, to catch a flight to Perth where they were scheduled to play the following afternoon. Amidst all the exhausted euphoria and sweaty high fives, the crowd slowly filed out onto Swanston Street knowing they had been a part of something truly special.
For those who weren’t at the HiFi on March the 2nd, they can only pray that The Bronx return to these shores as soon as possible, so that they too can experience the tour de force of modern punk rock that is The Bronx live.
Photo by Carlisle Rogers
Crossed Keys – Saviors
Saviors shows the work of well-seasoned musicians finding new energy in old sounds
Philadelphia’s Crossed Keys are an interesting intersection between melodic hardcore and punk, taking an earnest approach to the sound that made its way from the underground in the late 90s and early 2000s. This relatively new outfit is the result of Kid Dynamite and Samiam in a blender- in the best way possible. The Kid Dynamite influence may be a given since Crossed Eyes features KD’s drummer Dave Wagenschutz, but the band’s pedigree also includes members of bands like Zolof the Rock & Roll Destroyer and The Curse, all backing the melancholic vocal work of frontman Joshua Alvarez (Halo of Snakes). So while Crossed Keys are somewhat new, its members have been cutting their teeth within their respective circles for years, and their new EP Saviors shows the work of well-seasoned musicians finding new energy in old sounds.
Saviors is backboned by the furious urgency and energy that Kid Dynamite showed through their history, but while Jason Shevchuk’s vocals were beautifully abrasive, Alvarez takes a more restrained, wistful approach to singing. Songs like the opening “Times of Grace” are musically up-tempo percussions and razor-sharp guitars, but are buoyed by Alvarez’s more melodic vocals. His vocals rest at a good place between Samiam’s Jason Beebout and that NYHC tone exhibited by bands like Token Entry and Grey Area. In songs like “R.J.A” and the closing title track, Crossed Keys find more success with their brand of blistering speed meets harmony- slowing down only for the kind of melancholic punk that made Samiam a noted name. While much of Saviors is built on pace, it wasn’t always this way for the band. In fact, their 2017 EP, I’m Just Happy That You’re Here, leans closer to Samiam than it does to Kid Dynamite (the song “Jeff Pelly vs. The Empire” is particularly fantastic), so there’s been an uptick of urgency with Saviors.
For fans of any of the aforementioned bands here, there is plenty to like with Crossed Keys and plenty to like in Saviors. It’s succinct, to the point, but filled with ample reflection and exploration that gives the EP depth and resonance. Any band that has found influence from Kid Dynamite is most certainly OK by us (this site is named after a KD song after all), but Crossed Keys does more than just tip their cap. This one’s a really good one, and worth your time.
Every last time: Revisiting Gameface’s “How Far Is Goodbye?”
A glorious sound of a time gone by
Southern California’s Gameface were always a band that seemed perfect just below the cusp. Their brand of pop-tinged punk was somewhere in between the melancholy driven emo of the early 1990s to what would become of radio-friendly punk bands evolving from the Jimmy Eat Worlds of the… world.
I loved this band. It was songs like “My Star” and “When You’ve Had Enough” that captured my attention. They didn’t fit in with the punk explosion of the mid-90s and had more melodic chops than those that remained in the underground with bands like Quicksand and Texas is the Reason (the latter being the most musically similar).
To this day, I count their track “How Far Is Goodbye?” as one I can listen to on any given day and still feel the same way about it as I did years ago. It’s a glorious sound of a time gone by, and Jeff Caudill, who has been the backbone of their songwriting since the beginning, has still got the chops his ilk can only dream of. There’s a tinge of melancholy that conjures up a certain sadness, a scene in a movie where the protagonist is making their exit into the distance as the scene closes. Something about the song, the sentiment, and the lyrics that always reminds of driving away while looking at the rear view mirror.
Five years ago Gameface released a new album, Now Is What Matters, an album that perfectly encapsulated their ability to write with emotion, melody, and magnetism that only a select few seem to possess. I interviewed frontman Jeff Caudill before the album came out to chat about the band, an interview I think still holds up. Caudill has been busy since then with a lot of solo material, while the band themselves have been releasing music sporadically (mostly singles) since 2014.
While their catalog is deep, there’s one song I keep coming back to, and that’s “How Far Is Goodbye?”. Originally released on the split 10″ vinyl with Errortype: 11 in 2000, the song received an update in 2018, which you can hear below.
Gameface photo from Gameface facebook page.