7th October – Brooklyn Bowl

As day turns to night, the crowds of North Greenwich station move through their phases. The persistent thrum of tourists, a deep wave of commuters, and then the final shift: the spiked, studded march of the punks.

The Brooklyn Bowl, seated in the belly of the 02, is probably the least punk venue you could hope to find. The floors are a bit sticky and the vibe is dank in a just-so way, but the premium lagers and polished sheen betray the artifice. The Smell this ain’t. Still, if the opening night of Punk Rock Pins and Pin-Ups is proof of anything, it’s that corporate-sponsored scum is still good scum.
First up is the mellow Americana of Pounded By The Surf, who provide more than serviceable sun-bleached background sounds to sip a beer to and mull. Brummie bruisers and UK82 legends GBH are more confrontational. ‘Necrophilia’ and ‘Dead On Arrival’ still sound nice and crusty, and their three-chord barrage has weathered the decades with a meat-headed purity. The teeth are looking a bit wobbly on the old beast but it’s hard to knock their authenticity.

The Bronx don’t do off-nights, but right now they’re on blistering form. Matt Caughthran leads a sermon of sweaty-bodied carnage, as ‘Heart Attack American’ bleeds into ‘The Unholy Hand’. It’s a reckless level of energy; no barriers, no pause for breath, just a barrage of scuzzy LA punk. ‘Shitty Future’ is a nihilist’s call to arms delivered in a torrent of spit and vitriol, while ‘Six Days A Week’ adds impact to the set with its slow-burn build and explosive finish. The warm riffola of ‘White Guilt’ allows a momentary reprieve from the crush of the pit, but serves to lend the one-two hit of ‘Around The Horn’ and ‘They Will Kill Us All (Without Mercy)’ gut-wrenching intensity.

The Bronx know how to create these moments, ratcheting up the energy in the room, Matt constantly turning the handle on the dynamo until ‘Knifeman’ breaks and hurtles him into the crowd. It’s a glorious display of the joy and violence of punk, and by the time psycho-lament ‘History’s Stranglers’ rolls around to close the set in its whites-of-their-eyes fury it’s hard to deny the visceral power The Bronx harness.