Review: The Bronx and The Ghost of A Thousand
JORDAN BICKERTON: ‘The only real way to understand why legions of…listeners become so fervently devoted to’ the ;abrasive, angry genre’ hardcore punk, ‘is to go to a gig.’
Wednesday 12th May, 8.00 at The Junction.
The idea of hardcore punk is unexpectedly difficult to explain; when you start throwing around words like ‘unity’, ‘community’ and such like, the uninitiated listener either brands you as pretentious, or suspects that you belong to some kind of cult. The only real way to understand why legions of (predominantly male) listeners become so fervently devoted to this abrasive, angry genre is to go to a gig.
Having spent my teenage years passionately throwing myself around to the sounds of pissed off young men shouting, I became thoroughly enamoured of the aims of this scene, and experienced some exceptional nights as a result. Unfortunately then, given how important the crowd can be for the success of such shows, the majority of attendants at The Junction on Wednesday night were reluctant to take part, to move and sing along as is so customary with bands like The Bronx. Indeed, sharing a cigarette at the end with the Ghost of a Thousand’s bassist, he went so far as to say that Cambridge’s crowd was one of the hardest they had played to on this tour – he lamented ‘you’ve paid your money, it’s a hardcore show, why not jump around a bit’, a sentiment I thoroughly shared.
It wasn’t so for want of trying, or musical quality. The Ghost of a Thousand are a young, British band who play a cerebral yet vicious brand of blistering hardcore. Their vocalist spent the majority of their 40 minute set in the crowd, exhorting the attendees to give themselves up to the pace and passion of their tunes. For me, older songs such as ‘Left for Dead’ and closer ‘Bored of Math’ were highlights, perhaps slightly hampered by a rather muddy sound (which persisted throughout the evening).
The Bronx fared slightly better, with closing numbers ‘History’s Stranglers’ and ‘Heart Attack American’ greeted with a sea of chaos. Their more traditional, rock n roll infused take on the genre invites singalongs, as perhaps their most famous song, ‘White Guilt’, demonstrates. The band’s vocalist followed his support act’s lead, clambering into the audience at will, and delivering a series of powerful speeches between songs – the man’s presence is awesome, if a little deranged at times.
All in all, the music and the bands’ performances were fantastic on Wednesday night; it is a shame that this gig was prevented from being truly magnificent by the uncommon reticence of large sections of the audience.