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Mariachi El Bronx at Stiff Kitten

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ATL | 14:24 UK time, Tuesday, 22 November 2011


Dreary winter is in full swing and tonight, we are all in need of a little merriment to shed those winter blues. We’re not getting it straight away though - support tonight comes from the openly cynical Tim Kasher, a man who is clearly the company misery loves.

Now, we all know the one about judging a book by it’s cover, but he does arrive onstage looking a little like a geography teacher who lost track of time marking essays and had to run to the gig fixing his tie on the way. Formerly of the band Cursive, Kasher jokes that he’s trying to put a smiling face on existentialism, and it’s difficult to decide what to think as he flits between tortured lyrical genius and drunken lover scorned. He seems an odd choice of support for the upcoming joy-fest that is Mariachi El Bronx, wearing his clearly shattered heart on his sleeve, but it’s hard not to admire the honesty in Kasher’s songs as his lyrics forlornly portray what he calls “The dullness of our adult lives at high tide”.

In a rare occurrence for Belfast, the audience actually keep quiet and pay heed to the self-deprecating singer as he confesses to looking at the setlist and suddenly hating all his own songs. This humour is a necessary break to the dark broodiness of his songs, saving it from becoming a one man pity party and making us all able to relate our own tales of heartache to his.

Mariachi El Bronx are looking pretty fresh faced seeing as this is only the second date of their tour, having played Dublin last night. Like a super hero with 2 identities, Mariachi El Bronx is the alter ego for Californian punk band The Bronx. Only this is no weedy Peter Parker versus Spiderman affair. When the nachos are down Mariachi El Bronx are far from a novelty side project. They clearly put just as much effort if not even more into this as their punk rock day jobs, appearing onstage in full charro costumes, completed by bow-ties embroidered with the band name.

For one night only the Stiff Kitten feels like it’s been transported into a scene in From Dusk Till Dawn, and it’s perfect. They open with ‘48 Roses’, dedicated to “All the substitute teachers in the room”, moving into the bizzarest of subjects for a song in ‘Litigation’. ‘Cell Mates’ - one of their first tunes penned in the mariachi style - is a song filled with tales of brotherhood, and ‘Revolution Girls’ has everyone in the room on their feet.

When lead singer Matt Caughthran asks the audience for advice on whether to behave tonight or party hard, the answer is an obvious one. They finish rather early tonight, leaving the stage after 13 songs without an encore, but it seems that everyone has had a great time, reluctantly heading back into the cold with the sound of Mexican trumpets still ringing in our ears.

Carrie Davenport


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