The Bronx and Plague Vendor


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.

Having written for Kerrang! magazine since 1989, I started shooting for them, pretty much by accident, in the early 90’s when all their photographers refused to go on tour with my favourite punk band Poison Idea. With pretensions of being as good as Mark Leialoha and taller than Ross Halfin, I shot everyone from Ozzy Osbourne, Slayer and Slipknot to The Prodigy and was published all around the world (full-ish list in the ‘published in’ section) before stumbling into fetish and pin up photography in 2006 when I married Masuimi Max. I quit Kerrang! in 2008 and now shoot the rock stuff for Metal Hammer and Terrorizer.