It takes just a couple of songs to realise that California four-piece Plague Vendor are something very special. One minute you’re at the bar, intent on getting a drink, the next minute your full attention is on the band, not least because frontman Brandon Blaine has just done some crazy backflip off the drum-kit, and is now insisting that the stage lights be turned off because he likes things “dark and fucked up.”
He looks like he spends a lot of time in the dark, an unhealthy pallor, tanned but somehow sickly, belying his frenetic energy. But then, as the name suggests, Plague Vendor are not a band who’d look right with some health-nut for a singer. There’s some Cramps in here, some At The Drive In – though don’t let that put you off – and maybe even a hint of Joy Division if you look close enough, and bear in mind you’ll be looking in the dark. They’ve been described as ‘voodoo punk’, which isn’t far off the mark. They can also be described as fucking great!
But The Bronx need not concern themselves with ever being upstaged. With the ferocity of Black Flag and the swagger of the Stooges, they’ve been kicking ass for 15 years, and with yet another self-titled album to peddle, they show no signs of relenting. Opening the set with the aptly named Sore Throat from the new record, they spark instant chaos, this small but splendid venue exploding like a bar fight has kicked off. Except, of course, that this is just a normal pit for The Bronx, and, despite frontman Matt Caughthran spending most of the set in its midst, no one gets more than a bruise or two.
If they favour any one album tonight then it’s, er, The Bronx – the second one from 2006 – with such classics as Shitty Future, White Guilt, Rape Zombie, Around The Horn, and History’s Stranglers all getting an airing. But with about twenty tunes played, it’s a good mix of everything, old and new, and the pace never backs off, never less than full throttle and in your face, never less than brilliant. The perfect storm.