The Bronx / Torche – Belfast, Limelight 1 27/05/2015

Hornets at Limelight, BelfastThis evening’s gig – featuring the somewhat ironically named LA punks The Bronx and Florida-based grinders Torche – was originally scheduled to be two separate affairs, with the two bands playing in neighbouring venues within the same complex.  However, the promoters – and, co-incidentally, the venue owners – quickly managed to persuade those involved that it would not be a good idea to split their potential audience base, but a much better one to make it a co-headlining arrangement.  And that, ultimately proved to be the best course of action for everyone as, with the larger of the two Limelight rooms less than two-thirds full, it was obvious that the visiting acts would have been playing to much sparser numbers had the original bookings gone ahead as planned.

Local heavyweights Hornets kick off proceedings with a typically angst-fuelled set of hardcore-edged punk, built on walls of feedback and serialized effects.  They are energetic and tight, obviously out to impress the few present who are unfamiliar with their particularly dense rhythmic mixed with traditional HC harmonics, and are the perfect appetizer for what is to come.

Torche at Limelight, BelfastTorche almost amble onstage before their dense, dark, downtuned intro gives way to the swampy nihilism of their hypnotic, subterranean nihilism.  There’s an early moment of levity to wish guitarist Andrew Elstner a happy birthday, but otherwise they deliver sereins of thrumming noise, mixed with a punky, stoner vitality and underpinned with huge, grunting guitar disharmonics.

With bassist Jonathan Nuñez writhing like a boa constrictor in the centre of the stage, counterpointing the relatively calm demeanour of Steve Brooks to his right, their undulating vibe belies the dark intensity of the material.  The second third of the set is both heavier in terms of its delivery yet lighter in its mood, before the closing sequence from latest album ‘Restarter’ summarizes the dark, hideous beauty of the album in a singular aural assault.

The Bronx at Limelight, BelfastIt takes until only halfway through the second song before The Bronx frontman Matt Caughthran heads over the barrier and into the crowd – a move which symbolizes the problem with this evening’s gig.  With the amalgamation of the two shows into one, many of those who had booked tickets weeks, indeed months, in advance for Torche were already heading for the door, leaving Caughthran and his band mates to deliver their noisy, boisterous, scenester punk to a decidedly unnoisy and unboisterous bunch of scenesters who wouldn’t know a real mosh pit if it jumped up and pulled their well-groomed scenester beardlets.

A few minutes later, Caughthran – who doesn’t have the sense to use a radio mic but attempts to throttle everyone in the front rows with his overlong trailing cable – dives back into the “pit”:  but, despite pandering to the egos of those feebly pogo-ing around him, he would have got a bigger response from a bunch of five-year old girls on the trampoline at Barry’s Amusement Park on a pissing wet Bank Holiday weekend.  His next attempt to inspire a reaction – stating that “this is a magical night” upon which “Jesus Christ came down from the clouds and sprinkled his angel dust on an otherwise regular gig” – produces only one reaction in the throat of this hardened reviewer..

  • Torche play the main stage at Temples Festival on Saturday.

Photographs by The Dark Queen (c) PlanetMosh 2015

About Mark Ashby

no longer planetmosh staff