"St. Louis, you and I will fuck by the end of the night." So said Matt Caughthran, man of mischief and lead singer of the Bronx. Last night at Pop's, he and his Los Angeles-based band seduced with punk vulgarity -- and the promise of letting loose.
Caughthran conducted much of that seduction from the crowd floor, where he sang and moshed along with the audience. Not often do you see singers leaving the stage multiple times in one evening; it's even rarer do you see the sustained residencies to which Caughthran committed. And after an hour of such commitment, things felt dirty, damp, and deep, just like after any good seduction.
The music coming from the stage was just as thrilling. The band -- Joby J. Ford and Ken Horne (guitars), Brad Magers (bass) and Jorma Vik (drums) -- pulled from all three of the Bronx's self-titled albums. "Shitty Future," "Six Days a Week," "White Guilt," "False Alarm" -- each was an elegant variation on jugular-squeezing, full of bending and staggering garage riffs and bunched backbeats. (See set list here.) Caughthran's voice, already a hoarse scream, became a laryngitic plea by the time of closer "Heart Attack America." By then, the Bronx had just about conscripted participation from everyone there with its accretive aggression. Most participation, though, was voluntary.
If last night was a punk seduction, Mariachi El Bronx -- a band opening for itself -- was the foreplay.